Monday, October 12, 2009

Writer’s Block

I’ve heard a lot over the years about writers, even the most experienced writers, going through long periods where their muse deserted them, when their words would not come – those time when as hard as they try, their imagination couldn’t muster the enthusiasm to create scenes, characters, plots, even sentences.

Though I’ve heard many writers complain about it from time to time, I’ve never personally experienced that feeling. Not once if fifteen years of writing prose have I not found words to write.

Clearly some days the words, ideas and inspiration flow better than on others. And often it is difficult to make myself sit down and write, because my mind is elsewhere grappling with worries of the day. But always there are words and ideas.

In fact, I would say that my problem is exactly the opposite of writer’s block. If anything, I have too many ideas, too many words, too many stories in my head vying for attention. I’m a slow worker. It takes me an agonizingly long time to construct the framework of a novel or screenplay, and even longer to write it once I’ve defined the characters and plot points. And while I’m slowly plodding along, I am bombarded by inspiration for other stories.

I can’t watch a movie or read a book that I don’t say, “If that were my story, I would have done this, or that, or the other thing." And once those analytical wheels start turning, I can’t stop them. I’m constantly dreaming up new stories, sometimes two or three per week. They are always percolating in the back of my head while I plod along with my novel. But it takes me one to two years to write a novel, six months to a year to write a screenplay. During that time of working on a project, hundreds of other ideas come, and sadly go, because I don’t have the time to work on them all.

That is my most frustrating task as a writer, working on one thing at a time, abandoning good ideas for lack of time. How I wish I could split myself into five writers and become really productive.

Trying to writer faster is not an option for me. I can writer faster, but then I’m not satisfied with the writing. I must work each scene over and over to find the right cadence, the perfect combination of words to paint pictures in the readers mind, pull the right emotions from the readers heart. That, at least for me, takes time, and I’m not willing to compromise that.

So I keep plodding along, throwing away perfectly good ideas for stories in order to focus on the one I’m doing at the time. Writer’s block, how I wish I could stop the flow of inspiration about all these other stories so I could more fully focus on what I’m writing.

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