Thursday, May 5, 2016

Writer's Block And Humility.

There's one universal trait shared by all writers, no matter how proficient, successful, mundane or awful. We experience a moment where we simply can't think of anything to put into words. Hence, the eponymous writer's block. This is one of those evenings for me. I've stared at my computer monitor for nearly forty-five minutes, lacking any real sense of inspiration for a subject. I've scanned US and international news reports. I have spent ten minutes researching duct tape. Hell, I even watched a video on juggling flaming knives. Sometimes, you have to admit defeat and walk away from the keyboard. There's no shame in failure.

Writing is essentially an exercise routine for the brain. Like any other muscle in your body, it can grow strong and healthy. Using your brain regularly has actually been shown to stave off Alzheimer's disease in your later years. Day in and day out, a writer drags their brain into the proverbial gym. Ugh, let's lift bro! Five hundred word reps! Bench press a thesis! Ride an elliptical around your opening paragraph. WORK OUT!

And yet, just like going to the gym, some days the gears in your head don't click into place. Something is off. You can sense it in your gut. That's writer's block, standing in the corner next to the frozen smoothie stand with his overly damp Strawberry Shortcake towel in hand. He's yelling at you in a high-pitched voice, doing his best imitation of Gilbert Gottfried on bath salts and too much Red Bull.
"Give it up clown! You suck!"
You know what? He's right. You suck... today. Not everything a writer pieces together is a masterpiece. In fact, most of the time, a writer creates something that's already been done. Or, they craft a work of complete crap. Worse yet, there are some moments when nothing is written at all. That's the way writing goes, though. For every Wuthering Heights and Brave New World, there are hundreds of terrible novels like Fifty Shades of Grey. Writing, like anything else, is an exercise in humility. Fruitful writers are honest with themselves and their readers, confessing personal shortcomings and working to improve them. They know when to throw in the towel and submit to writer's block.

So what's the take-away from all this? The persistent writer will rise to fight another day. He'll walk into that mental gym and kick writer's block squarely in the nards! Na-ah. Not today, buddy. On this day, I say "You suck, clown!"

Huh... I guess I didn't have writer's block after all.

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