Happy (Good) Friday to you all! Last week, we discussed editing our fabulous pieces of prose (or, what we think are fabulous pieces of prose until the rejection letters come in and we go hide in a corner rocking back and forth using our manuscripts as tissues for our broken hearts). Editing, however, implies that one has finished a piece of work. You can’t really edit something that isn’t finished. I mean, you can but that just seems a little silly because then you’ll just get stuck in an endless loop of edits and never actually finish the work in hand. I know, I’ve done it; it SUCKS.
But, then, what do we do when the words just won’t work? When you sit and stare at the keys, willing them to transcribe your wildest fantasies (or the details of technical text on the cellular composition of a flower) except that the only things floating around in that skull of yours are dust bunnies and cobwebs? What does this mean? Are you a total failure? A complete amateur, wannabe-hack?!
No, of course not, it means you’ve hit a rut and you have the affliction all writers loathe known as writer’s block. We may bang our heads upon our desks (or keys or walls or pillows or shower stalls) and still nothing emerges from the pink wrinkles growing grayer and grayer with each passing second. It’s as if the hand of Death has descended upon your creativity and sucked it all away into word oblivion. Fear not, intrepid writers, the words are still there somewhere!
So, how do we find it again? Well, that actually depends on you. I mean, banging your head on the desk is definitely an option but it tends to be painful and then there’s bruising and awkward questions and sometimes blood… it’s just all messy. Instead, try reading a book in the genre that you’re writing in. No, it won’t ruin the greatness that you’re trying to put down on paper. Everything’s been done anyway so, really, we’re just rewriting things that have come before us. It’s like a circle of life sort of thing but with words. True story. Other options include taking a walk, writing a diary entry of how much you hate your words, having an actual conversation with the protagonist on why they currently hate you and refuse to play nice (conversations with your other imaginary friends, the plants you’re studying, or a random inanimate object are also acceptable). Paint, draw, craft, do a little yoga, maybe. Anything creative or inspiring will help chip away that wall that has been built around your brain and water the cracked desert of barren words so that they start to blossom anew.
Bottom line: It is OK to take a break, step away from the keys (or notebook and pen, if that’s your flavor) and let the rest of existence simmer around you. You’ll be a much better writer for it and probably avoid the pain of slamming your head into the desk. No one wants that. Be confident in your words, let them wander back in their own time and all will be well; promise.