I don’t believe in writer’s block.
Sure, that’s a strong statement to make, but it’s true. I don’t believe that as a separate entity, writer’s block exists. I can be tired, stressed, lazy, uninterested in the project I’m working on, or just acting like a ferret tanked on a Venti quad-shot red-eye. All of those interfere with my ability and desire to write decent fiction, but none of them render me completely incapable of it. Sometimes several of them combine, and I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck, and I just don’t want to write.
That’s the key, though. I don’t want to. I am physically and mentally capable of doing it, but due to some outlying circumstance, I manage to procrastinate, fritter, spindle (no, really) or otherwise ignore my writing time until it evaporates.
So you can imagine my annoyance when, this weekend, I found myself in the position of being afflicted by something I don’t even believe in. I wanted to write. I wanted to finish a new chapter in my solarpunk book, to sail past the 20,000 word mark and laugh as the speed of my progress left my previous weekend wordcounts coughing up dust in my wake. It was going to be glorious. I was going to finish the book by July, whip out the sequel in August, and then have a nice nap in September.
But I couldn’t. I pushed myself through the 20,000 word mark, because that was incredibly important to me. This is the longest project I’ve ever worked on solo, and that was the milestone I needed to pass to make it stick. I’m going to finish this book, and (I hope) it’s going to knock your socks off. I wrote a little over 150 words this weekend, and they were some of the hardest, and most important that I’ve ever yanked from my brain.
Staring at the story I was writing, I knew I’d created a roadblock for myself. I’d built far too much emotional and psychic baggage into those 150 words. There was nothing extraordinary about word 20,001, at least nothing that wasn’t just as extraordinary as word 13, or word 45,968.
I knew that, and after staring at an open document and finding myself totally unable to string the words I needed together to paint the picture in my head, I’d like to say that I also knew that sometimes, a roadblock is there for a reason. If I couldn’t get past those 150 words, maybe they were the only 150 words that mattered this weekend. I broke 20,000 on a solo project, and I’d made that into such a huge imaginary hurdle that once I was over it, I felt like I’d won, and I’d used up all my effort for the day.
I’d like to say that. I really would. But what really happened was, I questioned everything I’d ever done. I wondered if I had gone suddenly, irrevocably stupid. If Michelle would still speak to me, when I informed her that I had run out of quarters, and redeemed the last of my Creativity Skeeball tickets for a runty paragraph or two about some dudes in a car. I got so desperate for distraction that I folded my laundry.
So here we are, Monday, with an evening scheduled for writing. And I know it’s going to happen. I can feel the words waiting, and I know I have a story to tell. I’ve switched vehicles, and tonight, I’m going to steamroll right the hell over that roadblock I created for myself, and I’m going to enjoy it.
I still don’t believe in writer’s block, but I do believe that sometimes, I let my own expectations and emotional investment in a project overshadow the simple fact that at the end of the day, if I don’t write it, it’s not going to get done.