Writer’s Block

by Greg

In an effort to com­bat writer’s block, I’m going to try and blog more frequently.

Usu­ally, this sort of sen­ti­ment is code for “I had a ran­dom urge to write some­thing recently and remem­bered that I have a blog and oh, wow, I haven’t updated for a while, I should totally start writ­ing again, and you know what? maybe I will, maybe I’ll recom­mit to writ­ing and I’ll write lots and lots and it’ll be great, it’ll be me reg­u­larly writ­ing about cool and inter­est­ing and impor­tant stuff, just you wait and see, world, just you wait and see!” But in real­ity this sen­ti­ment has not come about for any deep struc­tural rea­son, but in fact was just sparked by a short manic burst of energy found at the bot­tom of a regular-​sized non-​decaf latté, com­bined with the bore­dom of wait­ing in an air­port depar­ture lounge.

Which is all to say: take the “I’m going to try and blog more fre­quently” thing with a grain of salt.

But any­way, this par­tic­u­lar res­o­lu­tion to recom­mit to blog­ging is not actu­ally a blog­ging res­o­lu­tion per se but more of a gen­eral writ­ing res­o­lu­tion. It was inspired by some­thing War­ren Ellis recently wrote in response to the ques­tion of how he deals with writer’s block:

The trick — and it’s imper­fect and can take a while, but — is sim­ply to write some­thing else. Don’t let your hands go cold. Don’t let your­self stop think­ing. Shift to some­thing dif­fer­ent. I think it was Robert Sil­ver­berg who used to do his (type)written cor­re­spon­dence on bad days, and then “trick” him­self into writ­ing by slip­ping man­u­script paper into the machine once his fin­gers were flying.

It’s about let­ting your back­brain chew on the prob­lems while your front­brain is amused by the new and shiny things. Find an essay to write. Do some flash fic­tion, or a short story, or a nov­el­ette about danc­ing gravedig­gers writ­ten in the style of Cor­mac McCarthy. An audio­book about diri­gi­ble vam­pires who shit sexy babies down chim­neys. What­ever. I’ve read of sev­eral writ­ers from eras past who would type out pas­sages from their favourite writ­ers, to get a feel­ing of what it’s like to make sen­tences like that.

Well, I’ve recently been not-​writing — which the astute reader will notice is pre­cisely the oppo­site of writ­ing, and a deadly busi­ness indeed for a self-​styled writer such as myself to be engaged in. I can’t say for cer­tain exactly why I’ve been not-​writing — a num­ber of rea­sons, prob­a­bly — but I think a good way back into it might be to uti­lize this blog as an out­let for my words.

My goal, then, is that if I’m feel­ing stuck on what­ever sto­ries I’m work­ing on at the moment, I’ll turn to this blog as a way to keep writ­ing on a daily basis. I.e., I’ll write an essay or a stu­pid short story or some jokey thing or a review or reflec­tions on some­thing I’ve read recently. Ran­dom stuff. No rhyme or rea­son to it. Like, I just read this Jonathan Franzen essay from 1994 about the Chicago Postal Ser­vice, so maybe I’ll write about that next. Any­thing to keep my brain and fin­gers warm.

And hope­fully, if I’m suc­cess­ful, my brain will get unstuck and I’ll get back to the sto­ries I’m work­ing on. Which means that when I say that “I’m going to try and blog more fre­quently”, I’m actu­ally being insin­cere, or at least unforth­com­ing with the whole truth. Sure, I’m going to try and blog more fre­quently in the short term — but if all goes accord­ing to plan, I’ll be back to writ­ing “for real” and this blog will fall yet again into a state of lovely neglect.