Around the Block

October 27, 2008
By Ryan

The worst thing about being a writer is not being able to write. I mean being physically incapable of writing.

Typically, lack of time is the biggest culprit. If I’m doing something other than writing, obviously I can’t write. But worse is having the time—making the time—to write, and then finding myself unable to do so. It’s as frustrating as … as … well, I could probably find a good simile to go here, but the block has come down on me. Hard.

Ray Bradbury, my favorite author, has said that writer’s block is a clear sign that you’re not writing the right thing. Move on, he suggests. Start writing what you’re really supposed to be writing.

I suppose that’s true. It’s how I read, anyway. I’ll buy a new book or check one out from the library, and then realize that I want to read something entirely different, maybe even re-read a book I already own. It’s like craving Chinese food after ordering a pizza, except by the time I finish whatever I had a whim for, my initial choice isn’t moldering in a box in the back of my refrigerator. I’m so glad books aren’t perishable—though I have had to pay a few overdue fines lately.

The solution seems easy enough: You want Chinese, eat Chinese. You feel like penning a new chapter for your YA fantasy novel, do that.

But it’s never that easy, mostly because I suffer from an overabundance of choices.

I’ll bring it back to the food analogy: If I’m hungry and presented with the option of a burger or a burrito, I can easily decide which one sounds best at the time. If I’m hungry and presented with the phone book’s restaurant section, the answer isn’t always so clear. Sometimes I need to see something, or smell it, or have it put down in front of me on a plate before I realize that, yes, this is what I’ve been wanting for the last hour—or not.

My writing process is similar. I don’t just have two ideas floating around in my head. I’ve got the project I’d most like to finish. The project I’m most likely to finish. The project that I think would most likely sell. The project that I think someone else will come up with soon if I don’t do it first. And two or three others.

That’s about it. I don’t have a solution with which to wrap up my point. In fact, this whole post has been an exercise in not really writing what Ray Bradbury says I should be writing, though I am writing something, and that feels good.

As my writing endeavors progress—and I sincerely hope they progress—I’ll share which writer’s block-busting techniques have worked. So far, I can cross “a change of scenery” and “writing longhand instead of typing” off my list, though maybe I just picked the wrong day.

In the meantime … I … uh, I got nothin’.

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One Response to "Around the Block"

  1. karl
    karl on 30-10-’08 11:57

    i’m loving HPO! this is such a good idea.

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