I can’t tell you how many “cures” I have sought for this particular condition. I think it has to do with the way an author’s brain is wired. I can literally feel the gunk in there. It’s a pressure, like something in the center of my brain is expanding, trying to push its way of my skull.
Some people call it “creative constipation”; while I know a few people who seem to have shit for brains, it has nothing to do with their creativity.
It’s not a lack of ideas. It’s a lack of focus for those ideas. Ideas are somewhere it that gooey center. Getting at them and cleaning off the sticky mess is the problem.
Although I’ve yet to find anything that works, here is my list of strategies:
- Take my medication. I’m not embarrassed to admit that I’m on seizure-level doses of anti-depressants. Sometimes I miss a dose…or five. Of course, just taking one pill doesn’t bring me back to “normal”, but at least when my doctor asks if I am taking my meds I can say “yes”.
- Take a shower. The best ideas usually come to us in the shower….kind of like the pizza delivery guy always shows up when you’re on the can (or in the shower). Unfortunately, as far as the shower is concerned, I can only be so wet for so long, and my hair takes for-evah to dry.
- Listen to music. My problem is I am always looking for that particular sound that doesn’t exist and I end up wasting an afternoon discovering this. I’ve gone as far as to download music mixing software to try and make it before remembering that I am too impatient to follow the tutorials and not very musically inclined.
- Read. I’m ashamed to admit that since I’ve become an author, reading has become less of a pleasure to me. It’s hard to find the time or a subject that keeps me riveted, isn’t a beta I’m doing for another author, or isn’t strictly for research. Also, when I read I remind myself that I should be writing.
- Burn smelly (scented) candles, which may or may not set off my allergies. If the allergy thing happens, I’m down for the next 3 days and can’t stop sneezing long enough to write.
- Play video games. Twenty minutes can quickly become ten hours. Sometimes a game will give me the seed of an idea, but a seed needs a lot more stuff to grow into a flowering banana tree. More often, it’s a game I play a lot, and my levels and equipment are so maxed out, that I’m one-shotting über-bosses and tossing aside the super ultra-rare whose-a-muh-jiggit because I already have ten of them.
- Call other authors and whine. This goes about as well as you’d expect.
- Cook. Since I don’t really like cooking, I spend the time thinking that I should be writing.
- Do other artsy things. Like video games, this can take up a lot of time before you know it. I mostly do digital art these days or find new ways to crash my film-editing software. Of course, I’m thinking about producing book trailers—for the book I should be writing—or covers—once again, for the book I should be writing.
- Write. Sometimes, strangely enough, this actually works. But when it doesn’t, it involves extensive tweaking of something I’ve already been trying to write and I end up showing a negative word count. Any author whose has ever gotten a one-star review knows that nothing’s quite as motivational as negative feedback (yeah, right).
Like everything else, I know it’ll pass eventually (no, sometimes I really don’t). And when (if) it does, my kid will want to show me her meme collection, my neighbor will come to my door, or I’ll hear that unmistakable retching of my bulimic cat about to barf all over the carpet. But it’s okay. That stuff has a limit—kid runs out of new memes, neighbor has stuff to do, and a cat can only hold so much volume. It would just be great if I could get all of that to happen when writing isn’t, but when writing is, those are temporary bumps in the road.
I don’t have any fixes for writer’s block, and I doubt if I did, they would work for anybody else. That’s the cool thing about writers and our (sometimes faulty) wiring. We’re all different, which ultimately makes our stories what they are: blood, sweat, and brain-poo… er, something like that, anyway.