Writer’s block. Is that what you rest your head on, waiting for that nice sharp blade to drop down and lop it off? Or is it the particular piece of cliff you stand upon, looking down into the abyss below, a void of wordlessness?
Do you sit there, pen, pencil or keyboard in hand (whatever your poison), and feel a physical barrier, or are you looking out onto an empty field, the expanse stretching away to the horizon with no sign of life to break its monotony?
Then you see something. A letter? A punctuation mark? A whole word or sentence? You can’t be sure but you run towards it, hands outstretched, desperately grasping. Then you take it in your arms and squeeze it to your bosom, only to feel it drift away into dust.
Or it stays with you and flourishes, growing into something that could actually be beautiful. A blog post. A short story. Possibly a full length novel.
Granted you might, one day, decide that it’s ugly and needs casting aside – consigned to the recycle bin or the rubbish bin. Or screwed up and thrown on the floor to gather dust in a dark corner. But it’s YOUR child so, sometimes, you have to be cruel to be kind – cruel to your baby to be kind to the rest of us.
If you’re lucky, though, it might blossom into a masterpiece that others stand in awe of. Or even a few just think is pretty good. It all warms those cockles.
But what if <gasp> you stand on that precipice and can see no ledge to catch hold of, or you run through the field and there really is nothing between you and the horizon except simply somewhere else to place your foot? What do you do?
I’m lucky, at the moment at least. Well, after a fashion. I don’t have a shortage of words. I have more than one project on the go, for a start. I have the sequel to my book, Sin. Then there’s a children’s book I’m 40,000 words into. Not forgetting Sin’s blog, his diary form within his asylum. I’ve also recently finished a short story based on the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and a children’s book called Rudolph Saves Christmas! Considering I get VERY little time to actually write, I don’t think I do too badly.
A few weeks ago I sat down to write work on the sequel to Sin and ended up starting the Rudolph story. I have no idea why.
A few years ago, I had nothing. There was no urge, no inner voice. I would sit with a pad or my computer, wanting to write – needing to – and I wouldn’t write a single word. That lasted a good (or bad) twelve months. It was awful, but I just couldn’t come up with anything. But I was trying to force it. I was trying to make the words come and kick the voice into uttering something. So it all rebelled, stuck two fingers up to me and turned its back.
I’ve had periods since where the same happens. So I leave them all to their own devices. I don’t sit there, begging for inspiration, I carry on and let inspiration come. I think it helps that I have so many projects on the go. I have my main one – currently the children’s book – and I try to work on that, but if it doesn’t want to play, I turn to something else. Usually that something else is one of Sin’s blog entries. They’re fun, are only about 500 words or so, and they take less than half an hour. I don’t plan them, I just write and see what happens.
So maybe that’s why I don’t seem to have such a problem now. When I had one story, it sometimes didn’t want to play. Now, they’re all jealous and vie for my attention! Now, I get to choose. It all stimulates the little grey wotsits. If I was struggling, I’d probably write my shopping list, but as a story. The toilet rolls are on the hunt for the mysterious, legendary Granny Smith of Doom. On their quest they have to defeat the cat food and reach the snow capped Cucumber of Halfness!
Write something, write nonsense, but write. If you write it, it will come.