I’m deadlining. Um … s’posed to be. I’ve actually been in that blank, dull state that’s 100x worse than the next-worst part of writing.
I just got over it a few minutes ago and though I might push my deadline by a few days (hate that, but it’s a monthly magazine and I suspect they may not even look at submissions for a week or two), I’m now breathing a different, clearer air.
I hear there are scribblers, quite a few of them multi-millionaires, who don’t suffer writer’s block. I hate them all. Hate them indiscriminately, regardless of race, creed, color, gender, or place of national origin. Hate them with malice aforethought and extreme prejudice.
Writer’s block at its worst isn’t just, “Hm. I have no idea what to write this month.” It’s, “OMG, what if I’ve lost all my talent? What if I’m never able to write another readable word? How will I live? I’ll die! I’ll die obscure and starving and probably not be found for weeks and by then the dogs will have …”
That’s what I just got over.
And the weird thing (I know I’ve said this before, but I always shake my head at it) is that, until some sudden moment, it’s like that. For days. Sometimes for weeks. Not one sign of progress, nary an idea, not even a tiny move toward the goal of actually writing something with which I can put kibble in the dog bowls. Then … poof!
There’s always this “never, ever” quality to the blank time. Even though I’ve been there before and gotten past it, it feels — every time — as if this is THE END. (“Yeah, but what if this is the one time that …?”)
During Nevertime, I can write other things — things I don’t have to write. I can dust knicknacks, hang wallpaper (this weekend’s project), and be a general wiz at life. I just can’t do that one thing. And as Nevertime goes on, there’s not one sign I’ll ever be able to do what I have to do. I think of resigning the gig. Of quitting the business. Of eating out of Dumpsters.
Then between a step with my right foot and a step with my left, the idea is there, along with words to open the article (one of the two hardest parts of the actual putting words on pixels).
Before this there may be an hour or so that feels a little different. A desperation that leads to action (grab a notepad, gird my resolve, have a glass of wine, make a list), then a recklessness. (“I’m doomed, anyway, might as well see if I can come up with something, even if it’s dumb.”) I expect all that amounts to a new openness, though it just feels like a way to calm panic.
And once I can give myself that state of mind, that’s when it happens.
Another weirdness (yet another common weirdness, too): The idea that eventually arrives is often not even close to anything I might have considered. Not even something I thought about thinking about writing about.
It’s just … there.
No wonder Greeks had Athena — the goddess of wisdom, courage, inspiration, strength, the arts, crafts, and skill, among other things — born full-grown from the brain of Zeus.
Now excuse me, I gotta go finish writing my article. It’s a breeze, I tell you. Once the flow gets going, it’s like … “Pain, what pain? Difficult? But anybody could do this …”