On Writer’s Block

I took the summer off from writing so I could devote my attention to another project. When I returned, I found that, in my negligent absence, my writers block had grown new and deeper roots.

Last night was the latest of many sessions where I alternated between staring idly at my screen and producing reams of mental flotsam I would never share. With nothing better to do, I reflected my attention back on the problem and wrote the following post instead.

Like so many people, I’m blessed with ideas for creation, cursed with a distinct inability to create.

What is it, exactly, that I’m imagining when I think of a story? Am I really thinking about the story itself? Or am I only picturing myself with the finished work in hand, flipping through it and perusing the good parts, anticipating the excitement of sharing the fruits of my hard labor with the world?

I think my imaginings are more the latter. They might feel real, but they’re thin as skin. There’s no meat, no muscle and bone to hold them up. At the slightest touch they deliquesce into nothingness.

When I set out to put my stories to paper, I’m not so much creating something as I am remembering it, and then only poorly. I remember scenes, but not the connecting narrative. Events, but not the plot. I remember that this character or another was dangerous, foolish, or noble. But I can’t remember what made them so.

And then there’s the paralyzing confusion and indecision that inevitably set in. My challenge isn’t finding an idea. Ideas come in brilliant swarms, like innumerable fireflies coursing through the darkness.

If I want to write, I have to capture them. But which ones should I follow?

I run pell-mell through the luminescent cloud, jar in hand. Every minuscule lamplight is uniquely beautiful, worthwhile, even necessary. Yet no matter which I pursue, before I’ve gone even two paces, another flickering temptation catches my eager eye, drawing me to one side or the other.

Every night it’s the same. I wear out. I give up. I find myself sitting alone in the dark, the swarm departed, holding an empty jar.

The hard part of creation isn’t choosing what will be. It’s letting go of everything else.

This article was originally posted on 2015-11-07. The featured image for this post is an altered version of a photo by Moyan Brenn that is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

3 thoughts on “On Writer’s Block

Add yours

  1. I guess all writers know what you mean, sometimes sitting in front of your screen just doesn’t work. For me, the mood has to be right. If I’m too worried or stressed about other things in life, the words won’t come.
    In the meantime, you’ve written a great post in this one!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Liking for how well this post was written. Not liking that you have writers block.
    I struggle with my creativity a lot, I get so impatient that I think it frustrates me more than it should, which further hinders my creativity. I try to do something creative everyday, even if it’s something small, tends to help. The more creative I am or pretend to be, the more ideas and stuff come to me.

    Liked by 1 person

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