There’s More Than One Kind of Writers’ Block

I don’t know why I never thought of it before, but it’s true.

For the longest time I enjoyed a smugly self-satisfied sense that (due to my limited writing time or imagination or some wonderful gift) I almost never suffered from writers’ block.

I made this determination based on the fact that I was never at a loss for words.

Because I assumed that writers’ block was like artists’ block: the literary equivalent of staring at a blank canvas and not knowing where or how to start.

Hint: for writing– especially with a computer– you just start. Put words down.  Make a muddle.  Build of your chunk of marble so that you have something solid from which to carve out your masterpiece.

But I was wrong.  Because I have struggled with finishing. With delivering.

I like to say (just because it sounds cool) that my Super Power is instant extrapolation. But what that really means (as I hinted in the last post) is that I react to things before I need to.  I anticipate, flinch, before the burn.  I call that way of life exhausting! because it is, but didn’t really see an alternative and got a bit fixated on the exhausting! (Because it really made me feel like I was working hard.  That’s what makes you tired, right?)

Well, here’s one alternative to consider.  It’s in a free ebook called The Flinch, and can be summarized like this:

  • Name this gut-reaction that is not very (if at all) useful. They call it The Flinch.
  • Recognize that the purpose it serves (keeping you safe), done too well, can hold you back from anything meaningful. Can keep you from taking good risks that will grow you.
  • Overcome the fear of The Flinch by reminding yourself failure isn’t permanent, and pain doesn’t last forever.
  • Use the momentum, the speed and impulse of The Flinch to react forward rather than cringe away.

Anyway, it was a short read, and brought up some good thoughts.

Best question it raised for me:

“Have you ever asked yourself why your stomach tenses up and your can’t watch imaginary characters on a television screen to awkward, embarrassing things? You should.”

My flinch has to do with my writing.

In experimenting this month with a regular posting schedule (on my other blog– it’s more focused than this one.  So far. So far.) I have found in me a surprising and painful resistance.

First there was the concern that using someone else’s recipe on my  blog would be not-acceptable, but then she saw my link and was very kind about it.

Then there was the question of Am I just adding to the noise?

Which created this imperative to be excellent.  To say the most Profound and Meaningful things that had ever been said on the topic.

It wasn’t so intimidating when talking about rabbits (the “competition” is slim), but there are so many excellent and articulate bloggers in the GF niche that pressing on with that “series” and adding my stuttering voice to the throng made the latest article painfully slow to write.

It was another form of perfectionism, based on a critical view of myself, through the eyes of a critic.  I asked, What’s really the point of this? Am I the best person to be writing about this stuff?

This was totally writers’ block, because it kept me from moving forward.  It was perfectionism, sure, and pride, because I want to do the best.

I mean, what’s the point of thinking, “I’ll just get by”?

Telling myself “I’ll just get by” is beautiful and welcoming and inspiring and effective for something like NaNoWriMo, but when it comes time to fill in the gaps and getterdone, that doesn’t work for me.

And maybe that’s my problem.

Who I am is displayed in my work.  Therefore, I want my work to be the best I can do in order to give the most favorable impression of me, myself.

It’s sort of like the process of choosing my new profile picture: all of them look like me, but some are decidedly more flattering than others.

The thing was, the best pictures are still only going to look like me,  so eventually I’ll just have to admit this is how I look and move on to the next thing.

I like the idea from the book about feeling the fear, the whole desire and direction of the flinch and then pushing past it.

Jump through the sprinkler.  How  much can it hurt? Okay, and how long can that last?

It was funny to think about my flinches– not starting new books (reading fiction), not letting some less-than-perfect escape (writing fiction).

At the moment I’m re-inspired to just Get in and get it done. Just to be done.

Finishing and releasing is a fear too– it requires more skills and tests of my limits than I’ve had to front, up to this point, but I can see that that is one of the biggest blocks I’ve encountered, all along this noveling road.


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