There aren’t even crickets chirping inside my head — that’s how bad this spell of writer’s block is. The frustrating thing about writer’s block isn’t that the words don’t come forth. It’s that they are too scared to even exist in the same realm as your consciousness, too frightened to complete the transfer from notion to discernable thought. Because if you can’t think them, then you can’t assess what you have just thought or mentally composed as absolute crap. I know what Anne Lamott says about “shitty first drafts” — it’s the advice I have passed on to students and friends and colleagues. “Just write” I say, knowing full well that sometimes there are no words and that even if the words do some, they might be complete, well, you know… How does one “not take things so seriously” while also attending meaningfully to the many little fires that may crop up during the day. Can one be existential while also being engaged? Or perhaps the better question to ask whether it is possible to be engaged without a certain amount of detachment? It is, after all, just some writing or, in Lamott’s friend’s words “just a bit of cake.” (See excerpts from Lamott’s Bird by Bird: Instructions on writing and life below and you’ll see what I mean — don’t read it for answers; just commiserate and go back to work.)
The trick, it seems, is to recognize that you’re stuck and move on. Accept the denial, so to speak, and allow yourself to transition into a better headspace. It’s the unstuck-ing that is especially challenging. To date, I’ve tried my usual standards: long walks, cooking, television, reading, napping, and even laundry. Nothing has quite done the trick. This tells me two things: I really do need ongoing dialogue with actual humans to get me through this stuck-ness, and I might need to try an approach that doesn’t come naturally to me: just sucking it up and barging through the stuck wall.
Here I go…
(And if you’re still stuck, might I suggest some math)