I woke up this morning momentarily gripped by a fear and uncertainty that has plagued me as of recent. Would today be like yesterday and the day before and the day before? Would I spend the next fifteen hours walking around my office in a daze trying to rip free of this chain of boredom? Would today be the day I finally break this horrible bout of writer’s block?
For twenty-five plus years, I’ve woken each morning with my head crammed full of ideas. Imaginary characters start to converse with me and I find my thoughts drifting to other worlds and possible dimensions. However, for the last few days these comforting and familiar figments of make-believe have vanished.
I’ve never experienced a block before and find it both terrifying and strangely liberating. Being a writer is like waking up every morning for the rest of your life with homework to do. There’s always a chapter to be edited or a scene that needs tightening; a continuous mental itch to put down your thoughts that doesn’t ever get scratched or go away. To not feel that itch is as strange as cold-turkeying an addiction; like a smoker not being able to huff his first cigarette of the morning, or an alkie denied his early-afternoon sauce. I literally had restless tremors.
The first two days of my block was bearable, and my creative writing time was spent marketing my other novels (which is not necessarily a bad thing) and my usual marketing time was spent trying to find my creativity. Day three of my block was when I got scared. I spent two hours staring at the same page in front of me. My newest dystopian novel (the one I’d been averaging 1,500 words a day) was stuck on the glowing computer screen like a dead fish in mud.
Television and video games rarely exist in my life. Perhaps, that is the main reason I write. I’d rather create my own stories than watch someone else’s imagination unfold on the screen or become a pretend animated character in a programmer’s virtual reality game-world. I create my own virtual realities. I can disappear at will into a character of my own choosing and creation. That’s probably why I’m so sad that the ability went missing.
I find days without writing exceedingly long, believing hours have droned by only to realize the day isn’t even half over. I don’t know how normal, non-writers find enough stuff to do to fill the time (I know, those with kids are cursing me right now). Only after I’ve put in a good three or four hours of writing can I start my day feeling like I’ve accomplished something, and by then I’m racing against the clock to get my normal, human life activities done.
Happily, this morning I awoke with the tingles of creativity again sparking in my mind and the dreaded, creative dead-weight lifted. After four days of not “feeling it” my thoughts are again sharp, my worlds have returned, and my characters are speaking to me.
Stephen King describes the breaking-writer’s-block emotion best in his book ON WRITING. After years of drinking and drug addiction, Mr. King finally got sober, only to realize with this new sobriety he had lost his creativity. Finally, slowly, over a period of a few months, he found the beat again and the joy. He describes the feeling as this;
“I came back to it (writing) the way folks come back to a summer cottage after a long winter, checking first to make sure nothing has been stolen or broken during the cold season. Nothing had been. It was still all there, still all whole. Once the pipes were thawed out and the electricity was turned back on, everything worked fine.”
It’s time to continue with my novel.