I never considered myself a “writer”, so I never expected to experience “writer’s block”. Well, SURPRISE!!! I’ve been hit by it in recent weeks. It’s infuriating. So what do I do? Babble about not being able to babble.
Multiple times, I’ve tried writing about things, only to have the topic fizzle after only a few sentences. And that’s during a productive period. Other times, I think of a topic, “Yeah, I’ll write about that!” but then that insidious little voice (those of you who have read my blog, which has suffered so these many weeks, are familiar with Alice, my greedy, cranky, critical, and all-around nasty personal demon) chimes in and tells me what a craptastic idea THAT is, and why am I so interested in it? Nobody else is! So I shelve it, and move on. To what? I have no idea.
I know that, in my heavily musical days (I majored in Flute Performance in College), I’ve suffered through “practice fatigue”, a self-named infliction that may have a more official name. We also sometimes called it “leaving the performance on the practice room floor.” This is what happens when you’ve practiced a piece beyond perfection. You’ve practiced it so much that it seems like your fingers are inventing mistakes just to keep it interesting. And boy howdy, is it frustrating. You’re constantly wondering, “what the heck? I JUST played that right!” And now the run won’t come for anything. So you start to freak out because OMIGOD, THE CONCERT IS TOMORROW, so you practice more, and make MORE mistakes, and panic some more, and make even MORE mistakes, and … well, you get it. At some point, you quit, because it’s either that or do your best Barry Bonds impression with this delicate, and often, multi-thousand-dollar instrument. So you carefully, and with the utmost care, put the blasted flute back into the blasted case, stomp out of the practice room, and end up in the school café, chowing on the biggest hot-fudge sundae you can find (wait, that explains a FEW things…)
Writers, as I mentioned, have the dreaded “writer’s block”.
I know my uncle, a wildlife artist, cannot draw or paint if it’s not quiet. He can handle any of the myriad cacophony that Mother Nature throws at him, but man-made noise? No way. Which makes it a bit difficult for him, since he lives across from a construction site and very near a train trestle.
Usually, it takes only the distraction of the mind to find a cure. Put it to other tasks, let it rest for a while, pick up the flute, the brush or the pen a little later. And the problem clears itself. But while its present, it carries with it a host of stress, and not a little self-pity that things will never, ever be the same again.
I have to wonder, is it only “traditionally creative” types that get blocks like this? Or do ‘technical’ people get it, too? Most folks don’t consider engineers “creative”, but I do. Do they get blocks? The inability to achieve that delicate balance between science and math? How about lawyers? Is there ever a time that the process just stalls out, the statutes don’t quite fit the problem, and they have to just shelve the problem for the night and start fresh tomorrow? (or maybe pass it on to a paralegal or an intern, just to frustrate them, and alleviate the personal stress?)
Please tell me it’s not just an ‘artistic’ thing…