Hello SOTGC community,
I hope everyone is having a great week so far. I decided to write my first “humor” style post surrounding an issue that has plagued me for a few weeks now. When I first started this blog I had so many ideas that I would find myself texting and emailing myself as they would pop into my head at random parts of my day. A few times I woke up in the middle of the night and had to stumble through a few texts with ideas so I wouldn’t forget them when I woke (you should have seen the typos on those texts.)
Do I see the irony that I have writer’s block and yet am the main author of a blog? Yes. Has this process been at all humorous over the past few weeks? No. Humor has always been my way of dealing with uncomfortable situations, or coping with things that I would prefer not to deal with, so I figured I’d go back to the basics and give it a whirl.
I’m a big fan of going directly to the source when trying to solve a problem. Since every time I have sat down to write something, my mind draws a blank, then perhaps I would write about the issue itself and hope something interesting morphs from the process.
To start with I thought we could define the term “writer’s block.” I logged onto good old Wikepedia and here is their definition (my sarcastic remarks in blue):
Writer’s block is a condition (or curse), primarily associated with writing as a profession(so it’s a good thing I didn’t quit my day job), in which an author loses the ability to produce new work. (Right now I’m lacking the ability to produce even recycled work…so perhaps I should file a request with Wikepedia to have this adjusted…)
The condition varies widely in intensity. It can be trivial, a temporary difficulty in dealing with the task at hand. At the other extreme, some “blocked” writers have been unable to work for years on end, and some have even abandoned their careers. (Oh, super! So I have that going for me as a possible outcome huh...) Throughout history writer’s block has been a documented problem. Professionals who have struggled with the affliction (we have now moved from “condition” to “affliction”…this definition isn’t trending towards a positive direction I notice…) include author F. Scott Fitzgerald and pop culture cartoonist Charles M. Schulz. (Well at least I’m in good company.) It can manifest as the affected writer viewing their work as inferior or unsuitable, when in fact it could be the opposite. (At least none of them have gone off the deep end and lopped off their ear.)
The research concentrating on this topic abounded (I wonder what events led to the research to be kicked into “abound” gear…?) in the late 1970s and 1980s. During this time, researchers were influenced by the Process and Post-Process movements, and therefore, focused specifically on the writer’s processes. (Is this the part where we sit around and stare at a flower for a few hours? Analyzing what makes it grow, if the flower has “feelings” and that is why it isn’t growing? Who sits around and analyzes a “post process?!” Prior to my “block” my “process” wasn’t that involved. I would turn on my computer, put my fingers on the keys, and I would start typing. How much analyzing of that “process” were these people doing?! And maybe if they stopped analyzing every single step of the process it wouldn’t’ have taken them years to realize their “block” wasn’t going to go away…and they could have spent that time on LinkedIn and found a different job?!)
The condition was first described in 1947 by psychoanalyst Edmund Bergler. Irene Clark notes that writer’s block is a common affliction that most writers will experience at one time or another. Mike Rose defines writer’s block as “an inability to begin or continue writing for reasons other than lack of basic skill or commitment.” Additionally, The Purdue Online Writing Lab says, “Because writers have various ways of writing, a variety of things can cause a writer to experience anxiety, and sometimes this anxiety leads to writer’s block.” (Perhaps I haven’t been doing this long enough to understand that kind of anxiety that one experiences when they get a “block.” I’m currently at the “annoyed” and “mildly frustrated” mark. For me, anxiety would be if I were trying to write an amazing, inspiring post while being chased by a dinosaur. I’m honestly not sure where I pulled “being chased by a dinosaur” from but I would assume that would cause anyone anxiety…not just authors experience a “block.”)
The literature seems to focus on two areas related to writer’s block: causes and potential cures or invention strategies. (Have you ever noticed that anytime someone has the hiccups, at least four or five people in their vicinity will come racing towards them with their “cures” on how to get rid of them? I’ve heard everything from “hold your breath for 20 seconds” to “tilt your head back while drinking an entire cup of water.” I’m not sure who the MENSA candidate was who came up with that LAST theory but I’m pretty sure that it has been passed on more as a joke than anything helpful…although…coughing while shooting water out of one’s nose from the “head tilting” probably has cured hiccups. I wonder if there is a “self help” group that authors could go to when experiencing a “block” and I then wonder what kinds of “cures” people have pitched around at these meetings…? Would they be as creative as the “cures” people come up with for hiccups…?)
Though this post is directly targeted towards laughing at, then trying to get over my “writer’s block” I would assume that everyone, at some point in their life goes through a “block” of sorts. Whether that is in their personal lives and they are at a crossroads that needs a drastic overhaul, or in their career when they find that they have lost their love for what they are doing. In the end, I feel much better even after this simple “process” of making fun of myself for “suffering” through this “affliction.” Hopefully if any of you are going through a “block” in your personal or work life, perhaps it would be helpful to stop analyzing every single inch of the issue…and just try and laugh it off and move forward…?