Friday, January 27, 2012
Unblocking Mature Woman Writer's Block
I had writer's block for about 35 years. When I was 9 I wrote constantly, entered writing contests and won sometimes; wrote, directed a school play in 5th grade. Went to college in English education so I could write more, better. Then I stopped writing. Work, goofing off and life kept me busy. Easily explained and understood. In 2006, I started writing again. In 2008 I published my first novel. I've been writing on scraps of paper, in composition books, gift journals, with screenwriting software, and on the refrigerator since then, but cannot move past snippets. From July to October last year, I could not write at all. So what do we do when we can't write, when it is what we need to do passionately? We talk about not writing. We read other people's craft. We meet. We fidget, play the tape loop about failure over and over in our heads. We judge, criticize, rewire neurons, and report failure to our creative synapses. This week friend Susan and I talked about this. We are aware of the usual suspect excuses: time, subject, interruptions, discipline. Same old, same old. We came up with a couple of insightful ideas. We're smart, educated, were not born yesterday, and know what good writing is and does. We know that good writing is putting the truth and heart on the page, connecting with empathy and understanding to the reader. It's the writing we like to read, and the writing we like to do. But. What if our children read it? What pain will we cause those we love? What in our past that we believe readers might appreciate do we not want to talk about? How do we move past not wanting to tell bad stories on ourselves, even if we think it might be funny to a reader? Can we be completely honest? If I cannot refer to myself as aging, or older, or an elder, what does that say about how truthfully I write? If I avoid pain in the present, can I write despondence with honesty? Can I bleed on the page? Does my therapist know I'm stymied like this? Is there a creative writing shoehorn? What's the 10k volt creative jolt I need? Can I pay for one more writing workshop? What Susan and I decided is the same methodology that worked when we were 9 years old. Practice, practice, practice.