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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Do You Suffer Writer’s Block?

Thoughtwrestler offers “Top ten tips for beating writer’s block” here. Of course it is facetious. Many forces can get in the way of writing, and they are all lame excuses. It is good to remember what Truman Capote said of Jack Kerouac’s work: That’s not writing, that’s typing.

Exactly! Keep the keyboard clicking, or pen or pencil scribbling on paper: that is writing. By the way, for much of Capote’s latter career (and that of Henry James, as well), writing consisted of speaking the material to a transcriber. That’s not writing, that’s dictation! Try dictating, if that will help.

When pressed to produce, either by deadline, or whatever other need, we get ahead of ourselves. We see a marathon ahead, or at least a rugged 10k. Races are run one step at a time, and writing is written one word at a time: word concatenating with word. Remain in that mindset.

Here are some rules that I have come up with for handling blockages:

  1. Don’t perfect until you have something to perfect. That is, assert your rewriting muscles only after you have written the thing.
  2. Don’t erase. Save the bits of crap. Keep the flow going. That might not be crap after all.
  3. Find a relevant quote or article or something to bounce your thoughts against.
  4. Don’t think. Write your thoughts.

The poet Charles Olson was accused of going all around the subject. His response: I didn’t know it was a subject. That aint bad. Do not let boundaries confound you. Step over and be surprised.

1 comment:

Mark Dykeman - Thoughtwrestling said...

Hi Allen. Yes, the "top 10" post was a bit facetious but I think we have the same view of the problem. Unfortunately, to many people it feels very real.