Letter 44: November 3, 2008
In response to Letter 38 (about the creative personality, with examples), a reader writes: "These seem to be people where writing is intrinsic to their identity and mental health, and as you say, not to their income. A bit like breathing, though more demanding? Intrinsically rewarding and necessary...?"
And another comments: "I think you hit the nail on the head with this, David. The times I have felt most "blocked" are times when I've been fairly satisfied, fulfilled, and sociable in other aspects of my life... total satisfaction leaves me without a burning NEED to write, most of the time… Laziness is the mother of invention; boredom the mother of great novels? :)"
While yet another responds: "The singer/writer Nick Cave writes: 'Writer's Block is a sustained lack of confidence in what you do, I've never had that.' I have this on my wall."
In response to Letter 41, which was about National Novel Writing Month, a fourth reader remarks "That thing sounds like fun. But I have a thesis to read for and then write." Fair enough, and it's too late now, but I wish I'd got back to you fast enough to say that in my research with NaNoWriMo participants over the last three years, many of them have told me they were current students.
What else? Oh yes. In response to Letter 42 a reader challenges me: "This was a really interesting note today, and I know myself that, even for non-creative writing such as a work report that needs doing, sometimes you just have to give it time to mature in your subconscious. I would be interested in your view on how this 'incubation' period can be distinguished from, or used as an excuse for, not writing. Many of your previous issues have encouraged just getting something on paper, and in some quite robust language. Are you now advocating delay? I think we should be told!"
That's right. Everything in this writer's block game seems to have an equally valid opposite, doesn't it? Yes, I'm advocating whatever works for you, and I'm advocating playing with things until you find what clicks. And one of my points is that just about everyone "procrastinates" and I really don't think it's helpful to call yourself ugly words like lazy. Even if your parents or schoolteachers told you that, it may still be untrue.
Did you notice I haven't much to say this week? I'm devoting more or less the whole week to a special project, don't expect to be answering emails, don't expect to have downtime with my family or friends wife for five or six days; but I wasn't going to leave you waiting for a letter that never came.
Something you can try today is to think like a radio or television news writer. When the red light goes on, the reader simply has to have your words, whatever they are; anything's better than silence and there's nothing else to say about it. Writer's block? - for those people, no such thing. For you, why would it be different?
David Jung McGarva
+1 (818) 707 1871
Write me: david at todayiwrite dot com
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