I say I have Writer’s Block.

It’s a truth, but the whole truth is a much larger picture. Just sit back. It’s going to take me a little time to explain it all.

Growing up, I went through a number of different potential “dream jobs.” I wanted to be a singer, an actor, a doctor, and, of course, a writer. As I apparently lacked the natural talent for the first, the necessary connections and skill for the second, and the strong constitution for the third, the fourth was what I grabbed onto with both small hands. I wanted to be able to make wondrous worlds like Anne McCaffrey with characters as engaging as Lois McMaster Bujold’s. I wanted so much.

When I was in middle and high school, I remember sitting in class with a dedicated section of my binder for writing. I’d have sheets of wide-ruled notebook paper just waiting for me to scribble on it. In fact, the scribbled on sheets are still there, filled with stories I had one day intended to finish. I had pages and pages of a would-be novel just waiting for me. Every spare second I could draw my attention away from the teachers, I would write.

I graduated and moved on with my life. During the summer between high school and college, I got a full-time job at a debt consolidation company (that’s another tale for another day). I took classes at the local community college and when I wasn’t in class, I indulged in a hobby I’d picked up years ago: online role-playing. If ever anyone wants to know how I learned to type as quickly as I’m currently able, I have AOL chat rooms to thank for that.

My stories were now joint efforts with people I didn’t know (and some I did). Occasionally, I’d dabble at bits of fiction here and there, but when I wasn’t in class or doing classwork, my creative energies were spent weaving tales with others. I loved the interactive nature of it all and still do, though I have long since abandoned AOL and its chat rooms.

Almost every year, I tell myself that this year will be the year I “win” NaNoWriMo. Some years, I make more progress than others. Unfortunately, the past few years were hampered by actual real-life work schedules that left me with little energy when I got home. This year, Assassin’s Creed IV was released just before the start of November. Needless to say, that’s where my time went despite only working part time and having “plenty of time to write.”

I remember sitting at my computer, fingers poised over the keys as I tried to bring this story I had been thinking about for so many months to life. With every word I typed, I second-guessed myself. Was what I wrote entertaining? Was I being too trite? Were there other words I could use that would make my prose more engaging? I still look at what I managed to write before I officially threw in the towel and scoff. I could do better. I had done better with other works.

As I type this now, all I’m seeing are a bunch of excuses as to why I’m not writing. They always say that if you want to be a writer, then write. I want to. I do. Every word I try typing for myself feels almost painful. The words “pulling teeth” come to mind. Where did the joy go? Where is that fun I used to have? Why does it feel like I’m just trying too hard?

It’s not that I’m out of ideas. I have loads of ideas. I’ll be showering or driving to work and a new idea will pop into my head. I’ve got a brain full of random thoughts and, as the kids call them, “plot bunnies.” When I try to type them out, I feel like I’m somehow not getting my words right and failing my story. It’s frustrating and ridiculous.

Fiction isn’t the only thing I have a hard time writing these days. Even writing blog posts or reviews is daunting. I can talk for ages and ages about the things I like, but trying to sit down and put the words to proverbial paper is a challenge I’m endeavoring to tackle. That’s why I’ve declared Mondays on this site to be “Me Mondays” until further notice.

I just have to take it one day at a time and one word at a time. It can be done.

  • micahp

    Idea: Dictate your blog posts to a vo-co recorder. Come back the recording later, and write down your thoughts.

    • That’s definitely something to try.

  • Rebecca C

    I hope I am not mistaking a simple desire for support as a request for advice. My support you have. Here’s some stuff that helps me:

    The following mantras:
    “not perfect, just done”
    “I can fix a bad page, I can’t fix a blank one”
    and a fun one from a TED talk, addressing your “muse” with “I just want the record to show that *I* showed up to write.”

    You might try some free-writing (set a timer for five minutes and literally try to jot down exactly what your stream of consciousness is saying for that time) or writing in the voice of a character instead of an omniscient narrator, which can help loosen that sense of overly-stifling accountability to perfection.

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