Amidst a sermon recently, our pastor slipped in the words: writer’s block. My spine straightened. We have a large congregation, so he couldn’t be referring to me, could he? No, his vision scanned the many heads; he was talking about all of us striving to be perfect, an impossible feat.
When pondering writer’s block, I think of walking into a cement wall—impenetrable. The word block itself is so final, akin to blockage or blockade, an insurmountable craggy peak, a desert that must be crossed to find a nebulous oasis. Wherever writer’s block dwells, I never want to go there. Although I bet my husband wishes I’d occasionally suffer from speaker’s block—I’m rarely at a loss for words.
I’ve heard of authors locking themselves in a hotel room without TV or telephone, so they’re forced to stay on their task. Sounds no fun whatsoever. Although I do enjoy room service.
I envision children playing with blocks; they invent all kinds of new, random structures, rather than sit in a funk and assume their minds have gone blank and will never come up with another innovative idea again. The Egyptian Pyramids were made of blocks, weren’t they?
I must say, I’ve been suffering from a mean case of planter’s block of late. I bought an assortment of plants and shrubs and can’t seem to get them in the ground. Wrong spot, wrong size, wrong soil, wrong lighting. I recall a friend once invited me to her fabulous yard to help her position her new flowers, fresh from the nursery. Her gardens have been featured in magazines so I couldn’t imagine why she needed my assistance. Her problem, she said, was she tended to plant her beds in too orderly a fashion, as opposed to fluidly, as might be seen in a French garden. She asked me to place the flowers from an artist’s perspective, which I did, and she was pleased.
When I have what I call a writing glitch, how I describe moments when I don’t know how my plot is heading or what my characters will do next, I’ll sometimes bring out a pencil and pad of paper and jot down every possible scenario, from earthquake, to fire burns down house, to winning the lottery. You name it. My list grows. I find that if I write long enough, most often an intriguing, albeit quirky, idea meanders into my brain. Even if not thrilling, I dare to write it out badly, knowing I can come back and “fix” it later. Still no surge of inspiration? Then it’s time for a completely different activity: putting away winter clothes, finding more items for our give-away bag. Shop at grocery store as I should have three days ago? (I hate shopping.)
Please don’t think I have no sympathy for authors suffering from writer’s block. I do! In fact, I’ve been struggling with ideas for this blog post. Please, feel free to help me out. Toss me question and suggestions . . . within reason.