We’ve all heard of that devastating condition called Writer’s Block and how it paralyses us, prevents the words from forming in our minds in order to be translated onto the page. Writers often fear such an affliction, though we all experience it at some point, I’m sure.
But, I’d like to acknowledge another challenging ordeal that we sometimes face as writers that, although related to Writer’s Block, is separate from the crushing ailment of losing all ability to write, but can be just as frustrating. I’m not sure if it has a name, if it does – because I am suffering with it today – I do not know what it might be. I’m talking about the instance of sitting down to write, or edit, with a determination to get the task done only to find you are at a complete loss of where to start. Then, all of sudden, you realise you aren’t ready to tackle it at all.
It’s certainly linked with self-confidence. While I planned to edit this short story I am working on today, I’ve collected all the necessary accoutrements only to find that the phrase ‘I can’t do it’ is rattling around my mind. I’ll admit, I am very tired; my brain is sluggish and I have a headache. I would – secretly – like to curl up and go back to sleep. But, I committed myself to this short story today and I must try, if only to see if this feeling of lethargy was a mask that slipped away once I began.
I suppose it could be considered a lack of focus; an inability to actively pursue the decisions already made. I’ve highlighted the changes I need to make on my hard copy of the story, really it’s just a case of going through the document and rewriting some sections, playing around with the language and altering the dissatisfying end. Yet, I cannot bring myself to do it. Not today, not now. Perhaps I am just exhausted; perhaps my muse is warning me that this particular story just isn’t ready yet. Either way, attempting it just now the process felt forced and tokenistic. It does not feel worthwhile.
So it isn’t that I can’t write, but apparently that I just don’t want to (or at least a part of my is refusing to cooperate). I could sit here and type out some words, work on ideas, write something new but something tells me that whatever I produced I would be unhappy with. If I were to do that, instead of rest (which my entire being is screaming out for) then I would likely only do more damage and possibly slip into the realms of writer’s block, stifling any chance I have of developing this short story into the potential piece I know it can be.
Sometimes it seems like the only choice we can make is the one that instructs us not to write, to rest and let our mind settle before we whip it up into a frenzy of imagination again. Perhaps I am stood on the threshold of Writer’s Block, hovering in the doorway unsure of which side of the line to stand. Hopefully, with time and rest I’ll be able to determine the right room to venture into in order to focus my writing mind and get back on track again.
In the meantime, I’m going to distract myself with other pursuits in the hope that I’ll forget my lackadaisical mood and rediscover the motivation I lack. Or, I might just take a nap.
What do you do in the face of difficulties when writing or editing? Is it just a case of distracting your brain until you’re ready to tackle it, or do you push through, confident that you’ll conquer it with time?
Let me know in comments.