You ever say or do one of those things that seems to follow you around and haunt you forever? Like Sally Fields’ infamous words when she was awarded the Oscar, “You like me! You really really like me!”? I did one of those things a week or so ago when I was on a panel at the GCLS conference.
The question directed at me was, “What do you do when you get writer’s block?” I poked my finger at the audience (just to emphasize how very serious I was) and answered something along the line of: “There is no such thing as writer’s block! That’s bullshit! Writer’s block is a myth that writer’s made up just so they don’t have to write that day. It’s because they’re lazy. Or maybe they don’t have anything to say. And, if you don’t have anything to say, then do us all a favor and don’t write!”
The words came out sounding a bit harsh. And, to be truthful, I suppose I meant them to be harsh. But, I was really talking to myself because writer’s block was one of those things that had doggedly pursued me for years. There were days when I was too busy to write. I had to pay bills, clean the house, do laundry, mow the lawn, paint the garage, get my daughter fed, or a umpteen million other things that every person had to deal with. Then when I finally sat down to write – nothing came out. I stalled in first gear.
I had writer’s block.
I tried not to worry about it. I told myself that there were days when nothing was going to come out and that was okay. My brain was just too worried about the mortgage payment that month. Or how I was going to pay for that Roto Rooter bill. I could write tomorrow.
The end result of that train of thought was — I wasn’t writing!
So, I started a new myth of my own : THERE IS NO WRITER’S BLOCK.
And, you know what? If you don’t believe in it, it doesn’t exist.
Now, I view my writing as my number one job. I write some every day and do all the other ‘real life’ stuff after. I’m not saying all my writing is good. I’m not even saying it’s mediocre. But there are words on the page. I’m not married to those words and I didn’t write them in blood. I may throw them away tomorrow. But for right now there are words on the damn page.
And don’t beat yourself up over word count. One day I was bemoaning the fact that I’d only written a hundred words. Saxon Bennett (author of twelve novels and Goldie winner) said to me, “I’ve written twelve books and I wrote them all one word at a time.”
And don’t worry about good or bad while you’re writing. You can worry about that later. The publishing world is full of these highly-evolved, big-brained people called editors who will be more than happy to tell you if your words are poopy. I once got some pages back from an editor with a nearly-illegible scrawl along the margin that read, “You didn’t really think this was funny, did you?” (Um… as a matter of fact, I did, but thanks for the dose of reality.)
You know what separates wanting to write a book and actually writing a book? Yep, putting words down on the page. So, if you want to write a book (or another book), I suggest you join me in dispelling the myth of writer’s block and don’t let anything stop you from realizing your dream.
Now SIT YOUR ASS DOWN AND WRITE! (that was me talking to myself)