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.