Writer’s Block, or the inability to put words to paper, is spoken of so often within the writing community that there is almost a presumption that you must experience it to be a writer. The symptoms of Writer’s Block vary, but include anxiety, stress, self-consciousness, lack of preparedness, lack of interest in the subject matter, and so on. The suggested solutions are just as varied–everything from therapy, to a jog around the track, to a ham sandwich. However, much of what is written about the subject presupposes that you might be a student or up and coming writer. But you are neither–you are a mature adult and at least old enough to be the parent , if not the grandparent, of that younger writer-blocked group. You have finally begun to write your long considered novel, maybe after raising children, or completing the most financially demanding decades of your life, or, perhaps, after entering retirement. The one thing that distinguishes you, then, from many of the younger class, some of whom may be writing for a grade, or searching for a field of endeavor, is that you want to write. This is not a task or an assignment; this is not a job; this is the fulfillment of your longtime dream to write. It gives you an important difference in perspective.
I had always read much about Writer’s Block before writing Clarity… So, I was more than a bit surprised that I never, not once, found myself in the midst of a debilitating writer’s block in writing a 500 page novel. On the contrary, my problem was not in thinking of the next thing to write, but in sorting out the story options that came to me, sometimes Gatling Gun style, in the middle of a paragraph, or at the beginning of a chapter. So a question materializes: How could my experience be so different from an expectation of Writer’s Block that seemed so certain that it is almost a proverb? Consider if you will, the bright young writers in the act of writing their first novels. Much of the writing is necessarily a fabrication, something not experienced but, rather, conjured up in the mind. It is the need to fabricate a substantial part of everything that will be in the novel that, I believe, is the well that runs dry. On the other hand, consider the much deeper well of human experiences an older group of writers has to draw upon–it is the preventative penicillin against Writer’s Block. Just how many more interactions of all kinds, good and bad, have you had over someone just half or a third of your age. The point is that you have a world of experiences just waiting to be called upon. Open you mind to these recollections, allow them to work their way within your thinking and be amazed, as was I, at how your life’s experiences will give you story lines and characters that will feel real when read…because they are.
Next week’s blog: Which of my story ideas should I write first?
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R. Scott Franklin, Author, Clarity is Dying