Wednesday, January 13, 2010

I'm Ready! Are You?

Last month, I posted a humorous Steve Martin quote about writer's block. Go look it up if you don't remember it.

Back? OK, that entry was posted at least partially for my own benefit. You see, I really feel like the best way to handle writer's block (if such a thing truly exists) is to tackle it head-on. If you're having trouble writing, the solution is just to WRITE MORE. It doesn't even matter if it's any good or not.

I spent several years putting in an effort to write something every single day. It wasn't always brilliant. Heck, some days, it was lazy and/or awful. But the practice gave me the ability to think my way around certain problems that I had created for myself with regard to writing. That was valuable.

Today, I don't write every single day. However, I keep my mind active enough that I can CREATE at a moment's notice. Is it always genius? Ha, hardly. But if you don't allow yourself the luxury of creating bad ideas, you'll never have good ones either.

It's easy to fall into the trap of feeling like everything must be just so. Or to want to be as exhaustive as possible in what you're doing. Hey, I've been there. All it ever did was paralyze me from finishing anything. Or when I did manage to get something done, I was inevitably disappointed. My own perfectionism was my worst enemy.

Lately, I have been thinking about this. I have been struggling with a story for many, many months. I wouldn't say I had writer's block; if anything, I was just completely uninspired. The action was in my head, but I couldn't will it to be expressed. There are reasons for that, and not all of them are even up for discussion.

I was pondering this dilemma Tuesday. I haven't had any serious issues finding writing challenges on this blog during the past year. There have been times when the well ran a bit dry, but I've always been able to mine my mind (good one) a bit further to find something worth discussing. But this story has vexed me, and I couldn't figure out why.

Then it hit me. I guess I've known all along. I am too concerned with making it truly worthwhile and epic. The "stage fright" (for lack of a better term) at the prospect of having to pull this off has largely rendered me unable to work on it. I'm too nervous to fail.

This is no way to get anything accomplished. Sometimes, you just have to get down into the trenches and do what needs to be done. With that in mind, I sat down, and penned the longest bit of fiction I've written in at least 9 months. Is it perfect? Doubt it. Can it be fixed, if necessary? Absolutely.

It's just worth remembering that the only way to do good work is to, you know, actually do work, rather than sitting around talking about how you're going to do this and going to do that and this will be amazing when you get around to it. Because unless you actually deliver on those promises, all that talk is just that - talk. I've been plenty guilty of that through the years. I like to think I've gotten better, and 150 blog entries with this particular post would bear that out. So would 2,000+ entries on my old journal. But it's just so easy to fall back into the bad habits, and not getting anything out there because you're so focused on making sure everything is the best thing since sliced bread.

Well, this is rambling and stream-of-consciousness, as I rather expected it would be. I'm just pleased that I managed to overcome another one of those walls that exists inside my head. Let's see if I can sustain that momentum.