Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Here's the wall

And I've hit it. It just came up out of nowhere and I'm not sure why. Maybe I'm just tired. Maybe I've let myself get distracted by the wrong things. Maybe I've been writing too much, or not enough. Maybe I've just run out of ideas. But it's there, in front of me, and I can't seem to get past it.

I don't consider myself to be a "good" writer. I don't consider myself to be a writer at all. What I am is a person who writes but even this I'm beginning to doubt, second-guess. It seems every word I write is dead on the page. There's no life, no spark, to any of it and I'm wondering what's causing it, why I've suddenly flatlined. It feels as if my brain has completely shut down, as if I'm slowly deflating, crumpling into nothing. I used to find inspiration in the smallest things but now it seems I'm moving on autopilot, my eyes closed to the world.

I know that everyone goes through dry spells, patches of desert where it seems there's no end in sight. I know that eventually, it will pass. That I'll come stumbling out of the wilderness, pushing through the branches wild-eyed, bits of leaves stuck in my hair. There's always a way out of the maze; I just have to find it. If I have to take this wall down brick by brick, scraping my hands raw in the process, then so be it. In the meantime, feel free to leave me some inspiration in the comments.

23 Comments:

Blogger Lynn said...

I hit walls all the time. It's just a matter of finding your way around them. Or over them. Or accepting them and finding a way to write in spite of their presence.

8/09/2006 1:05 AM  
Blogger Amra Pajalic said...

My antidote is veging in front of the tv. Usually I hit the wall cause I've pushed too hard and I need to pull back, get energised and the passion returns. Good luck.

8/09/2006 2:33 AM  
Blogger JimmyJames said...

The Wall - is it there or just an illusion you have created in your mind? As long as you see it as the "wall" it will always be the "wall!" However, by changing the perception of the wall to a positive "gift", that wall is easy peasy. You can lean your chair against it for a rest, put a table next to it and hang flowers from it, draw or leave grafitti on it, draw a circle on it, and just walk thru the opening.
As for being a "good" writer, that is open to discussion, and as long as you identify your writing with other peoples comments, then those comments may become your wall. But look back when you wrote just because you wanted to write. Those sentences and words were yours and your alone, the rules about writing did not matter. If you had a dangling participle, or another rule infraction, so what. The words would flow - and that is what you wrote, and those words, sentences were yours alone.
That may be your wall, everyone giving you advice, and then you trying to conform to what someone elses expects or the many rules that to be a good XXXXXXXX, we have to do it only this way. Just write, and let it flow and just be yourself.

8/09/2006 6:24 AM  
Blogger January said...

Maybe you do need a bit of a break, and to cut yourself a little slack.

When I'm stuck, I blog. Also, I read other people's blogs and poems. I run to the nearest anthology and look for ideas.

Lately, I've been really good about staying with a piece that's frustrating and working my way through it. (Sometimes, the only way out is through.)

You could post the snippets of poems and fiction that you do like, and maybe our responses will spark an idea.

When all else fails, try a writing exercise. And don't give up.

8/09/2006 7:36 AM  
Blogger Julie Carter said...

I don't think I can leave you inspiration, but I can say that I've been there. For me, what it meant was that I was placing too much importance on something that shouldn't be that serious. Writing is my hobby, not my life. It's not a failure of my brains or my morals or my personal standards if I don't write something. It's like Chinese food. I love Chinese food. I am usually glad to have Chinese food. But if I don't want an eggroll, that's not a reflection on my worth as a human being! My husband is a ham, and he can go months, or even years, between operating his radio, but it doesn't make him not a ham, and it doesn't make him a failure.

8/09/2006 8:05 AM  
Blogger Scott said...

Sometimes I just write whatever the hell word pops in my head, then a sentence, then a paragraph. Sometimes its shit, and other times, it turns into something. I started a post similar to this one once, then deleted the first paragraph after hitting my stride. Don't worry, and don't pressure yourself. Trust me, it happens to everyone.

8/09/2006 8:34 AM  
Blogger Lex Ham Rand said...

When words fail me, I go "nonverbal." I play my guitar, I cook something, I find a project to work on in my 100-year old house (that constantly needs work).

Sometimes I have to go "nonverbal" for days before the urge to write returns. I think you have to store up thoughts until they are bursting to get out sometimes to break through the blocks. Don't stare at blank paper or get too stressed. You are not a reporter on deadline. You are an artist wrestling with the muses.

Mix it up. Go to work by a different route. Eat some new food. Listen to a different radio station. Drive to Savannah for the day and walk around the nation's largest contiguous historic district (would that I were close enough to do that - now I'm projecting my own ideas onto you.)

Don't write. Don't read. Listen, look, walk, do something by hand - go kinesthetic.

The words will come back.

8/09/2006 10:05 AM  
Blogger Valannin said...

Primarily, I'm a playwright, or at least "one who writes dialogue", so in order to keep my words fresh, and not altogether sounding like my characters go to the same bar night after night, order the same drinks, and discuss their same mistakes, I go where no one would ever expect to find me.

Try visiting an arts and crafts supply store, a vegetarian restaurant, an AA meeting, a dog park, or anywhere else where you would not normally go. Of course, this doesn't work if you're an alcoholic vegan who knits sweaters for Pomeranians, but you get the idea.

I'm inspired first and foremost by people who are not me, and therefore, my characters tend to thrive on experiences that I have not had, in places that I have never been. As soon as I find a character "lighting a cigarette" or "pouring a glass of scotch", I'm out the door, because I realize that I'm just writing about myself, and no one wants to read that. Not even me.

8/09/2006 11:28 AM  
Anonymous fringes said...

This all makes me curious what the "it" was you said you still had on yesterday. Have you lost it again or were you talking about something else entirely?

8/09/2006 1:34 PM  
Blogger Writing Blind said...

Thanks, everyone, for offering advice and welcome to Amra and Valannin. I think the problem is I'm tired and I feel like every day is a repetition of the day before. I need some sort of change in my life in general, not just with regards to writing.

And Fringes, the "it" I had yesterday refers to my ability to still be able to attract members of the opposite sex, however misguided and Republican they may be. (See comments on previous post.) It turns out I'm not completely unattractive as I'd previously thought.

8/09/2006 1:51 PM  
Blogger Quinn said...

I'm just now starting to shake off the rust of a nearly three year long dry spell where nothing seemed worth the effort. I can't say I have any good advice because I think the way out is different for everyone - although I like Rand's non-verbal approach. I got back by reading. I went back to my favorite authors, hunted up some new ones. I also got back to writing by realizing that most writing "blocks" are related to brain chemistry, so, I altered my diet a little - in a very unscientific sort of way - cut back on my intake of depressing world news and tried getting more rest. maybe none of that will help but, as long as you're not self-destructive, take "the wall" as a chance for self-exploration and search out your own magic spell for getting back.

8/09/2006 1:59 PM  
Anonymous fringes said...

*slaps head*

Yes, I should have read the comments. But in my defense, I just knew "it" was your writing, so my not reading the comments to find out otherwise was the ultimate compliment. Please take it as such.

Is it just me, or are these word verifications getting longer and longer?
15 minutes later, I'm still typing mine in.

8/09/2006 2:00 PM  
Blogger Writing Blind said...

Quinn, I can't concentrate and all I want to do is sleep. I think it's not a writing problem so much as a life problem. But since you're way smarter than me, I'll follow your advice.

Fringes, don't hurt yourself. What's up with these word verifications anyway? Wouldn't five letters work just as good as fifteen?

8/09/2006 2:03 PM  
Blogger Quinn said...

Don't follow my advice just because.
I often can't tell the difference between writing and life .. so how smart does that make me?

8/09/2006 4:15 PM  
Blogger Writing Blind said...

Oh come on, you're a super-genius and you know it. Trust me, I've read your blog, I know.

8/09/2006 4:18 PM  
Blogger Chad Simpson said...

I think it was Getrude Stein who said:

A wall is a wall is a wall.

8/10/2006 7:33 AM  
Blogger Writing Blind said...

Maybe. Or maybe it's just time to cash in my chips and get out of the game.

8/10/2006 3:57 PM  
Blogger willowtree said...

Im sorry I don't have any words of inspiration. Ive been hanging out at this wall for a while.

8/10/2006 7:21 PM  
Blogger Writing Blind said...

It sucks, doesn't it? I want to take a sledgehammer to the whole thing.

8/10/2006 7:22 PM  
Anonymous bookfraud said...

there are walls, and there are walls.

i hope that helps.

whenever i am stuck, there are usually only three things that get me out of it. 1) reading inspiring literature, like garcia-marquez or such; 2) going to a writer's conference (not easy, i know); or 3) temporarily putting aside whatever i'm working on and just writing whatever the hell pops in my head. e.l. doctorow was suffering from huge writer's block, and so he just started describing the inside of his house. that led to another description, and then to another, and suddenly, he's written "ragtime." true story.

8/11/2006 9:54 AM  
Blogger Writing Blind said...

Unfortunately for me, I'm no E.L. Doctorow. I'm sure I'll get over it, I'm just wondering how long it's going to take.

8/11/2006 11:55 AM  
Anonymous bookfraud said...

you may not be e.l. doctorow, but you are rebecca, and that's enough.

8/11/2006 2:04 PM  
Blogger Writing Blind said...

That, among other things, is why I love you.

8/11/2006 2:47 PM  

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