Ending Writer’s Block
OK . . . last time I wrote about different kinds of writer’s block, many of which I have suffered from myself.
But this has not been the case for the past fifteen years. The past fifteen years have been my most productive. So what has made the difference? What has worked for me?
I write something every day. No excuses. Even if I have only fifteen minutes, I write what I can in that time, often as quickly as possible, accumulating words on a page. Why does this help? Writing doesn’t become a choice. I don’t ask myself: Should I write today? Am I feeling inspired? Do I have a good enough idea? No, I write to find good ideas, to find inspiration, to find what surprises me on the page.
I compose in a file called “generating file.” I am not writing a poem or a story. I am simply doodling, playing around. That takes away a lot of the pressure. If it’s no good, so what? I can always revise later, or throw out what I have written, or save that one line that worked and use it the next day to write something else.
If I get stuck on one project, I move on to something else. I like to have several projects going at a time, and I like to switch back and forth between poetry and fiction. Last year I finished my first brief play that will be included in my next book of poetry, Distant Fires. I wrote the play simply because I wanted to try a new form.
I try to see writing as a form of play. Sure, I hope the results are serious, but I try my best to enjoy the process, to work on projects that excite me.
I write quickly, revise quickly, and send out work quickly.
I try not to plan too much ahead of time. I try to listen to whatever the “voices” in my head tell me to write. My job is simply to put that down on the page. So long as I am not making conscious choices, so long as I am not trying to control things, the work seems to flow. On the other hand, if I start to try too much to dictate the direction of a poem or a story, to make it go where I want, that is usually a disaster.
I do my best to be motivated by success (by acceptance emails and phone calls), but not discouraged by rejection. OK . . . that’s not always easy.
I remind myself that not every poem or story will be wonderful, but my best chance of producing strong work is if I produce a great deal of it.
I like this post. Sadly, writing a little something every day tends to lead to declining returns for me. I seem to have a battery that runs down and has to be let alone to recharge. Still, if I haven’t written a poem in several days I will go to the page and conjure one up. I like a blank page. Sometimes I have to remind myself how much I like it. There are so many poems hidden in it. You have to tease the surface until the creature comes up from the deep.
I need to take your advice about sending out my poems quicker.