My output on here isn’t especially regular. I thought I’d do something to explain that, but also something to address issues around “Writers’ Block” that must effect a large part of the authorial community at one time or other.
The short answer is: we stop seeing the point. Feels like your brain is empty and you just can’t summon anything up or whatever. Well generally it’s acutely expressed for me when belief in my writing fails. I can’t summon up anything because I’ve already decided my ideas are pointless, not worth expressing because they will not be read or they will not be understood. Or maybe they just aren’t good enough. And that thought, that fear, kills the writing process before it starts. You can’t go into a session thinking your work is nothing, because then it will be nothing. Simple enough right?
So how do we break this cycle: well, acquiring belief in the self is a livelong battle for probably most people. Even narcissists can worry that they don’t look perfect enough to fuck themselves. Therefore we have to look outside of the self. Sometimes you just can’t rely on that interior, almost spiritual well of inspiration and knowledge working without outside input. Basically, go and talk to people. Find a friend, find someone in the café or at the bar who looks interesting, or hell go on a forum or facebook. It’s so easy with the internet, we really have no excuse. Start a discussion, start an argument if you have to. Make it about something interesting – trolling is too easy and probably won’t get your inky juices flowing, just those other juices – and try to put the time limit on for around half an hour. The participation of others will probably fill you up with some sort of fervour that you can direct into writing.
Next step that also applies generally: even if you don’t think it’s good enough, write anyway. Editing is a thing. You can modify, correct, improve later. Once you have an idea, how well you write it isn’t important. People say you should plan first, well, with word processors you can write first and then do a plan with your first edit. I think it’s called “drafting”. People forget this, I forget this especially. At the beginning of a piece, if you’re struggling, sometimes it can just be about “content creation”. Not even anything good just something essentially coherent.
I forget that on WordPress you can alter and edit anytime you want. Now, if I had a wider readership that might become more obvious. But I don’t think even then it would need to become a problem. Not if you’re happy to read me anyway. I was worried – by all the “best of so and so…” posts on my reader – that no-one edited after posting. But it’s a function available. We should use it. The world, information, opinions, expressive capacity, change all the time.
This is not a platform of books. This is, surprisingly enough, a very well-built tool for conducting discourse. So many people, even the overlords of WordPress themselves, have forgotten that. We shouldn’t just be prising the perfect posts that make one or a few salient points and have them metaphorically sing like angels. We should also prise posts that spawn other coherent posts in response, ones that spawn huge chains of thought in the comments boxes. We should be encouraging eachother to talk more, discuss more, elucidate our points of view so we can all improve. Surely there’s a way of highlighting those places where actual discussion happens as opposed to the written equivalent of shouting and pats-on-the-back?
I mean if we were all labouring in that sort of atmosphere of interaction I bet it’d be a lot harder to get writers’ block. Admittedly, individual posts could get pretty casual in their vocabu-grammar. But I like to think nuance and careful expression would automatically earn their own respect and approval too. Emoticons and text speak didn’t wipe out language, guys. Posts of singing angels will never die. Unlike Esperanto.
But back to this blog in particular – I’m far too good at tearing apart my own advice and ideas. For years – and I think I’ve actually been on here for years now – that has been the bane of my attempts at producing higher volumes of interesting content. Including pictures. I talk myself out of things before anyone even knows I’ve considered them!
Still, I have some confidence in the method described above. Interaction and an amount of well-placed foolhardiness can break us out of our dark patches. It makes sense. I shouldn’t even have to say it, to myself or anyone. But I do have to remind myself. So this is me reminding you too. And I’ll probably be throwing out some more poems sometime soon.
By the way, in the spirit of the above, I might be editing this (wait and see if I label the edits or not) and I’d love to do some of that discussion thang. Although, after probably a couple months of inactivity, I’m not expecting much.