I know that we generally don't talk too much about writing craft here, but I also know we have a lot of aspiring writers in the audience. I've been running a series of craft posts at my blog every Thursday, and I wanted to share one here in case you're needing a little inspiration. This post is from a couple of weeks ago. If you want to see more, be sure to check out my blog.
Cross-posted from JayeWells.com
The other day a new product came to my attention: The Writer's Block.
The product description is as follows:
Feeling boxed in by your current writing assignment? Unpack some inspiration with this beautiful, hand-glazed, stoneware cube that features six thought-provoking cues; Poetry, Mother, Quietly, Hairy, House, Lust. With every roll you'll hear the ever-so-light jingle of bells, stimulating your ears and eyes to find your muse through the cube's understated imagery and melodiousness.
First, this product sells for $45. For a ceramic dice. For a ceramic dice that claims to cure your writer's block.
Second, my favorite part of the description is "you'll hear the ever-so-light jingle of bells, stimulating your ears and eyes to find your muse." No, my friends, the sound you're hearing isn't a melodic muse summoner, it's the sound of the makers of this product laughing as they deposit your $45 into the bank.
I'm just saying that $45 buys a lot of pens and paper. Or you can send me $10 and I'll call your voice mail and scream, "WRITE, DAMN YOU, WRITE!"
Look, I'm not trying to pick on the makers of this product. Okay, yes, I am actually. But my point isn't about this product specifically. It's about writer's block.
A lot of writers steadfastly maintain that writer's block doesn't exist. I don't know whether this refusal to believe is a result of lack of experience with it themselves or a denial borne of self-preservation. Either way, I do believe it exists, but I also think we should call it by its real name: FEAR.
Did your gut just tighten?
Mine did. It tightened because I've been there. What's worse? I've been there under deadline. Just remembering that period my chest feels like cold hands are pressing down on my ribs. For me, it wasn't that I couldn't put words down on paper. It was that I couldn't put good ones there. Everything I wrote came out forced and phoney.
Know why? I was forcing it because I felt like a phoney.
Writing is a mental game. Yes, you've got to sit in the chair and pound on the keys, but you've also got to be in a good head space. If you're approaching your desk every day thinking, "I'm a talentless pretender. No one will want to read this. I have to do this X way because that Real Writer on X blog told me I had to. If I don't write something brilliant I'll die alone and penniless clutching sheeves of unpublished purple prose."
Try writing something brilliant now. Go on. DO IT NOW! BE BRILLIANT NOW!
All right, everyone simmer down. The sad truth is that no one and nothing stands in the way of our success more than we do. All these perfectionistic messages we feed ourselves, all this impatience we have with our budding talent, all the false expectations of instant fame and success--it all blends together into a cold, bitter slurry of shame that makes creativity impossible.
Yeah, that's great and all but how to do I get over it, Jaye?
Shh, my pet. Shh. You know how to get over it. You know.
Stand up right now. Go on. No one's looking.Except me. (waves from the window)
Now do something ridiculous. Shut up. I don't want to hear it your excuses. Do something crazy. Jump up and down. Do the hokey pokey. Break out into the Running Man.
I don't care what it is. The point of this exercise is for you to remember two things. 1. Stop taking yourself so freaking seriously. 2. Writing is fun!
Ostensibly, that's why you started writing to begin with, right? You thought it was a gas to write crazy little stories about interesting characters. Back then, you didn't worry about sales or your fucking brand. You didn't care about getting famous. You just wanted to do something that made you happy.
But somewhere along the way that happy fun time turned into frowny-faced frustration time. Maybe the rejections got to you. Maybe you got a few too many one-star reviews on Goodreads. Or maybe you're just tired of feeling like no one's ever going to recognize your genius.
Dudes, if you don't even want to be around you, why would your imaginary friends? Interesting characters don't want to spend time with Mr. Grumpy Pen, much less tell him their stories. And, you know what? Readers won't enjoy reading anything you write, either. Hell, chances are good even your real friends are avoiding you. Why? Because you're no fun any more.
I'm an author. Writing is how I earn my living, and,like any business, it can be frustrating and stressful. But I refuse to spend my life devoting myself to a career that makes me feel shitty. So I refuse to let the bad reviews, the vagaries of fate or the god damned lack of respect people have for female writers or urban fantasy writers or writers in Texas, or any other stupid belittling criticism or headache of the publishing business get in the way of enjoying the hell out of this ride.
So now, when I sit down to write, I try to remember that my first goal is to amuse, amaze or intrigue myself. It's not possible to feel amused, intrigued or amazed by my writing every day, but my goal is to feel that way MOST of the time. And if that's not possible, I just try to remember that I'm not trying to cure cancer or figure out the debt crisis. Yes, I take my work seriously, but in the end, my job is to entertain people. And frowny Jaye is not entertaining.
So, my pets, now you have the secrets to avoiding writer's block. Get out of your own damned way and try to have more fun.* Yes, it really is that simple.
Or, you know, you could spend $45 for a jingling ceramic dice.
*If you've forgotten how to have fun, then your biggest problem probably isn't writer's block. Figure that out before you try to write the great American novel, okay? Therapy is awesome.