writer’s block? pshaw!

It’s kinda weird.  I love to write, and I love having this little scrap of cyberspace to contain it and broadcast it to anyone who happens to wander through.  After all I am a first-born, which automatically makes me a teensy bit of an attention-whore.  But lately I can’t seem to squeeze out a post for the life of me.  Recently, a good friend and subscriber to this blog cautiously asked me if I was still writing.  He asked me this because it had been a month or so since he had received any e-mail notifications that I’d published anything, apparently leading him to wonder if perhaps I’d removed him from my subscriber list.  Maybe he thought I was writing about him (that would be fun!) and I didn’t want him to read it, or maybe he was pining away for my regular brain downloads.  In any case, I assured him that I hadn’t abandoned my blog, nor had I blocked him from seeing anything I’ve written.  I just haven’t written anything lately that feels interesting enough to finish or to publish in this blog.

Granted I have been known to enthusiastically start a project and shortly afterwards to abandon it, sometimes with nearly the same enthusiasm.  Anyone who knows me well is now grimacing and nodding vigorously (stop that!). But this feels different.  I’ve been a talker my whole life (stoppit again!).  Words have always seemed to tumble out of me easily and prolifically, sometimes to the amusement of people in my life, and sometimes it seems, to their bewilderment or annoyance (particularly the male people in my life).  Like all girls coming of age in the seventies, I wanted to be a famous writer like Laura Ingalls Wilder.  I was always writing stories in my head.  But whenever I sat down with pen and diary in hand, again and again, all I could eke out would be some maudlin, hackneyed nonsense that didn’t feel interesting or worthy of completion.  Mrs. Godfrey, my second grade teacher, wrote on my report card “Chris is an excellent reader and her understanding and ability to do math have steadily improved.  Some of her stories lack creativity.  I have talked to her about this and have seen some improvement.”  then a few months later… “I feel Chrissy is working to make her stories more creative and ‘meaty’.”  This frustrating inability to translate my thoughts into written word, this so-called inability to “live up to my potential” was a theme that would haunt me throughout my school years.  Why was there a disconnect between my garrulousness and bountiful imagination and my ability to get words down on paper?

As a child, I wrote the beginnings of the same old stories over and over again.  Usually they were melodramatic tales of woe that involved orphaned children, or as I got older, tawdry stories of unrequited teenage love.  Most of them started grandly and trailed off into oblivion before they ever went anywhere.

I don’t want to do that with this blog.  I don’t want Misslisted to be another victim of what my sister recently referred to affectionately (and restrainedly)  as my “slight A.D.D.”.  I am a grown-up woman now (I think.), and like anyone else,  the things I excel at and stick with are those which I am passionate about.  I would like to keep this blog on that list, and not on the OTHER list which includes making pies, my first marriage, and selling long-term care insurance.  Because I LOVE to write.  Truly every day as I go about my business I can barely wait to get the stories and thoughts in my head “on paper”.  It’s so disappointing when I can’t make it happen.

At the same time, I don’t really have a goal with writing per se.  I do not aspire to write a novel or a memoir, though if someone offered me a job writing a column about parenting teenagers I’d be all over it.  I like to write short pieces, and writing helps me to find deeper meaning in the everyday goings-on of my life.  It allows me to see things differently, to put structure around things that feel chaotic, and to create and re-create my own existence.

Mostly I am writing this post as a pep-talk to myself to keep going.  I’m not enjoying feeling stuck, and like a baseball player in a batting slump, I know it’s all a big ol’ head trip.  At this point, best to write something in my blog, ANYTHING, rather than let it languish into oblivion…like that knitting project in my closet…


23 thoughts on “writer’s block? pshaw!

  1. Wicked post. Really. Write on.

    This reminded me of an amusing quote from Steve Martin. Sorry it’s a little long, but I couldn’t resist posting the whole thing. 🙂

    “Writer’s block is a fancy term made up by whiners so they can have an excuse to drink alcohol. Sure, a writer can get stuck for a while, but when that happens to a real author — say, a Socrates or a Rodman — he goes out and gets an “as told to.” The alternative is to hire yourself out as an “as heard from,” thus taking all the credit. The other trick I use when I have a momentary stoppage is virtually foolproof, and I’m happy to pass it along. Go to an already published novel and find a sentence that you absolutely adore. Copy it down in your manuscript. Usually, that sentence will lead you to another sentence, and pretty soon your own ideas will start to flow. If they don’t, copy down the next sentence in the novel. You can safely use up to three sentences of someone else’s work — unless you’re friends, then two. The odds of being found out are very slim, and even if you are there’s usually no jail time.

  2. Good to see you back! You’re doing the right thing in writing about not being inspired to write. Your flow will come back…until then keep those projects going. We all get stuck, and I often feel like the longer, more pot-marked roads ends up being best after all.

  3. Oh, I know The Block all too well. Just trust your thoughts and fingers, and know that eventually after (as I like to call ’em) constipation days you’ll get (as I like to call ’em) gusher days. Never fails. *grin*

    • This is the beauty of getting older for me, I know that usually, if I just wait something out, it will pass. And also, I am not trying so hard to be somebody, because I already am somebody, so if my writing just “is what it is”, and some of it is great and some of it is mediocre, that’s okay, because I am doing it! And doing it is what matters at this point.

  4. As long as you’re true to your intention to give yourself the time it takes, I think your blog will be fine. I always look forward to your posts and when I don’t see anything for a while I imagine you are too busy living your life to write. Incidentally, I ALWAYS imagine you’re having an exciting adventure.

    Please don’t abandon your blog, I don’t mind waiting and it doesn’t seem anyone else does either.

    • Thanks! I am having some adventures, and I’m trying to be really really quiet too sometimes, which is historically harder than excitement for me, but I think it might be a bigger part of my future. Glad you’re still reading!

  5. Hang in there, Kid! You ARE a talented writer. That doesn’t necessary mean sentences are going to automatically spring forth during your sleep and run over and insert themselves into your computer. They will come when they—and you—are ready!

    Just go with the flow and write when time, inspiration, and the mood all choose to strike—which may happen more often than you think.

    We’ll be here when you’re ready!

  6. Wait a minute, long term care insurance? [smiling] Think of this period as your “elimination days” [if I recall the jargon correctly] before your policy starts paying out!

    • Hmm. Well that is very nice for sure. I was nominated for one before and like a rude and lazy person, I didn’t do anything about it. Not very polite of me. Even though I’m a bit of an attention whore as I mentioned, I am also extremely, I mean EXTREMELY HUMBLE!

  7. I just spent an afternoon with two other bloggers who each admitted to having writer’s block at some time. Just when you feel like chucking the whole blogging idea, something happens that gets you going again.

    Look at my last blog; all was well, when suddenly a FOX appeared in my yard!
    Could that happen without a story?

  8. Been there. In fact, I’m still there. Whenever I get writer’s block, I bide my time writing meta-posts about writing. But you can do that only so much. Soon, you’re gonna write. You write well.
    Came to this blog via Cristy Carrington Lewis. She’s good at spotting talent.

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