SLAM! Just when you thought you had it licked, that blank wall gobsmacked you!
There you were, all nice and cozy in front of your pristine writing surface, all primed and ready to write! And waited. And waited. And waited. Forever, it seemed. NOTHING!
After what seemed an eternity, you turned off the computer in disgust, put your well-crafted writing utensil back in its velvet-lined box, and slunk back to the land of the living.
Drained. Disheartened. Disheveled. Disgusted.
What a waste, I’m no writer. Heck, writers go through this a mile a minute. Me? An old, sprained mule could beat me on days like today.
And there’s been altogether too many days just like this, for my tastes. Perhaps I’m not cut out for this kind of work. Perhaps Mom was right: “Be an orthodontist,” she had said. But NO! I knew in my heart I was a WRITER!!!
Sound familiar? Some of the details may be changed, but I’ll bet you’ve had the same kind of roadblock a number of times before.
And in all cases, you’ve wandered away from the trades, feeling lower than a snail’s left kneecap.
Take heart! You’re not alone. Thousands of writers and writer would-be’s pound themselves in waves against the same wall. Some give in.
“Want fries with that?”
Others finally figure out the key. But they don’t share.
Let’s look at what you call your “Writer’s Block.”
There are two aspects.
One, we’ve decided who is probably the main culprit: Your inner critic and censor, working overtime to actively prevent you from being “too creative”.
The other is more subtle, but just as real: you may be suffering from “information overload”.
Let me explain.
If you look closely at what you’ve been experiencing, you’ll probably find that one of the reasons that you’ve frozen at the writing surface is NOT for lack of ideas. It’s precisely the opposite.
I’ll bet that if you are honest with yourself, you’ll find that the ideas come to you all jumbled up and in great profusion. Your challenge, and why you freeze up, is because you’re having a hard time selecting from all of those ideas and themes.
At the risk of boring you, please permit me to tell you a little story as a way of illustrating my premise.
Imagine that you are in an empty, windowless room. In front of you is a blank wall with a door sporting an ornate door handle. As you look around the room, you notice that all of the walls are blank, bland, formless, faceless. A soft glow permeates the room and just barely dispels the gloomy darkness. Over in one corner of this otherwise bare room, you see a wizened old man sporting a green eyeshade, his sleeves rolled half way up, and he is studiously peering through coke-bottle bottom glasses at a clipboard he’s clutching in his gnarled, arthritic hands. The clipboard is festooned with rubber hand stamps of various colors and sizes, and, curiously enough, each of them has the same words on its stamp face: “Rejected. Not Relevant.” This little old man is also wearing a large, red button lapel that proclaims in bright contrasting letters, “Mental Story Idea Selector.” Your room companion ignores you, but you realize with a flash of recognition that this decrepit old man is your own, personal story filter.
You step forward, reach out your hand, turn the door handle and the door swings inwards. Through the open door, you see an expansive meadow filled with little bright yellow flowers that are gently swaying in a light breeze. There’s a hint of music in the air from some unseen source. The meadow stretches far into the distance.You notice that the meadow borders a forest of shockingly and brilliantly colored pine trees. Behind the pine trees, you see a towering blue-tinted mountain range. A rime of snow covers the very tips of the mountains.
It’s all so serene.
You call out, “Any ideas around here? Any at all??”
The words are barely out of your mouth when up from between those delightful flowers jumps a horde of slavering, scaly, hairy, slimy, green, brown, toothy ogres of all manner of shape and sizes from all over that beautiful meadow, and from even as far away as the furthest pine trees. Each of these unholy abominations is clutching some sort of large, heavy, pointed or rounded tool. Pounding the earth, mashing the flowers to used coffee grounds, they soundlessly run towards you.
You slam the door just in time.
You hear the myriad thuds as the monsters crash into each other. They pound furiously on the door, trying to break through.
Those ideas are ready to do you some serious mayhem!
The door groans from the strain of those ideas. As you watch in rapt amazement, the door pops open under the furious onslaught. You are aghast. There, seized in the doorway is a mélange of ideas, their arms intertwined, their legs locked together, and they’re wedged into an almost impenetrable mass, all trying to squeeze through that small doorway at once.
Your Mental Story Idea Selector, ignoring the open doorway, looks around the empty room and declares, “No idea leads here!!”
You look helplessly back at the door, and to your horror, notice that the door frame has begin to shrink. The ideas are further being squeezed out.
Again your Mental Story Idea Selector looks around and declares in a loud voice, “Nope, no ideas!!” Then your Mental Story Idea Selector reaches out his hand and without looking, slams the door closed.
“Well, guess we’ll call it a day. Nothing here. No ideas. Nothing at all! Perhaps we’ll have better luck tomorrow.”
You watch helplessly as your oblivious Mental Story Idea Selector stalks out of the room through another door which has magically appeared in an adjoining wall, leaving you now completely alone.