Monday 16 May 2011

Writer's Block - A Blip

I had a blip yesterday. Or was it the day before? I lose track of time because I write for most of the night and then climb into bed well after dawn. But Saturday was a day in which I was not writing for the most of anything. I didn't write at all. I was attacked and critically disabled by the dreaded writer's block.

It surprised me, it really did, because during the writing of this, my latest poem, it hasn't happened to me at all. I knew exactly where the story was going each day, and if it took a turn away from the original plan I quickly amended the plan, always for the better, and headed off in a new direction. Except on Saturday I found myself painted into a corner, having absolutely no idea how I got there and wondering how the hell I was going to get out again.

I'll try not to reveal any of the actual detail, but now that I'm approaching the end of the story I of course want a big finale, so I dreamed up an impressive-sounding plot device to get me there. Except it didn't. It just got me nowhere, stuck in a rut.

I decided to sit in front of the computer all day until inspiration re-appeared.

It didn't.

Then I decided I needed a break (from the pointless nothings I'd been doing all day) and perhaps I would then return fresh and inspired.

No luck.

More than a break then, why not go to bed? I don't usually sleep 'off schedule' because then I wake up at irregular hours and am more often than not in a bad mood until I set my internal clock back on its proper path again. That's exactly what happened. I woke up in a foul mood, made worse because I still had no inspiration, and sat there seething.

Finally, I gave up, watched TV, didn't bother even thinking about writing. I decided that the next day I would try again, though if nothing happened I would probably have to bypass my dead-end by cutting out some of the poem and re-writing it with a different plot device. I hate doing that, but reversing out of a cul-de-sac is much better than being stuck at the end of one going nowhere.

Today (yesterday? Sunday!) I fully intended to ditch my last three verses and rewind my story. But guess what? I sat in front of the word processor, read through those three verses and thought 'I know where I can go from here'. The block had been removed. And in fact today I wrote more than is usual for me on a normal day, so it's averaged out pretty well over the two days.

What's more, the path I'm taking with the story is now firmly in the 'let's finish this sucker' department - the end is very near now and I should be done in perhaps two or three days, subject to the usual revisions when this first draft is complete.

Writer's block is awful. Thankfully, it's almost always temporary.

Don't remind me about the mega-project which is lying unfinished precisely because I got writer's block, under exactly the same circumstances, a couple of months ago. That one is a little bit more than 'a blip'. However, I've put it out of my mind and I'm focused on what I'm doing right now. Progress is good, so that's as good as it gets.