Monday, November 27, 2006

Fallow Periods

It's 8:30 PM and writing time; do I know where my ideas are?

Of course not. Yet, I sit down to write anyway, just as I tell my students, and nothing comes out. Or I just stare off into space, somewhere above my computer, and waste my time not writing. Worse yet, I do write and what comes out is a weak and painful trickle, about a paragraph's worth.

In college, with my friends, we had names for it. "Writer's sludge" was my favorite. It's somewhere in between a complete and total blockage and the aforementioned trickle. When I was in college, I had the time to work through the sludge and break through. It's such a rare and amazing feeling at that moment when I break through and start creating again.

Now that I've got only between a half an hour and an hour a day to write, how can I get my rhythm without the painful yet rewarding process of blocking then breaking? I turned to the internet, and of course, found some interesting tangential information, but mostly the same old advice.

In between the "just do its" and the "create a writing practice" advice listings, I found these two articles:

New Yorker article -- This ran two years ago, but it poses an interesting theory. Apparently, when we moved away from the logical process to the "creative process" within writing, we gained Writer's Block. Apparently, when I was citing inspiration as an almost divine act, I was espousing a Romantic notion.

McSweeney's article -- This is also an old one -- yet it 's very funny. A humorous look at Writer's Block and what's really wrong with writing and not writing.

3) Sydney Herald article -- More recent -- about famous authors who have famously stopped writing. We're not alone.

So for now, I get to suffer in my little writer's block/sludge phases and hope that they pass. Besides, I have something do in writer's group on Friday. If that doesn't inspire me, I don't know what will.