Fighting Idealessness

If you could see me right now, you’d be impressed. Coffee by my side, dog by my side, sitting in the office having successfully put a 6-month baby boy down in his crib with no fuss. From a wide-shot, I’m writing with some sporadic clicks around at e-mails and Twitter and Safari.

You’d be fooled, though.

As most writers do (I hope), I sometimes get this morose kind of I’m-never-going-to-have-a-good-idea-again mindset. It happens a couple times a year and lasts a variety of lengths. Sometimes it’s an afternoon; Sometimes it’s a week. Never, really, is it too long. And never do I ever think it’s real and never do I sit around sadly with nothing to say.

This stretch of idealessness has lasted about three days now. I’ve got a couple pitches out, to which I haven’t received a response (yet); I’ve had a pitch accepted but that’s contigent on credentials coming through, which they haven’t (yet). I should sit back and enjoy a good book along this cup of coffee instead of slapping away at a keyboard that seems to be functioning solely as an antagonist.

My point, maybe, is to agree with a  recent article I read about writer’s block functioning as nothing more than an excuse for not writing. It’s not an actual thing. You never hear a doctor say she’s having surgery block; You never hear an accountant say he’s having math block. It just doesn’t happen.

I do understand, however, that writing — like art or music or any form of art — is different than the concrete skills of surgery and calculus. Writing is an art form that comes from an intangible place. There has to be the skill set, which can be taught, by the way and the desire to write. There are another set of variables, too. Inspiration, whether inspiration to sit down and write or inspiration in form of a muse or an idea, is critical. Watching a blinking cursor on a blank page is like getting shit talked to you.

Still, to not write is a crime in a situation where you’re idealess. There are methods to fight idealessness, but they often serve as distractions from the important tasks of writing. My main method is taking the dog for a walk. Just the dog, not the kids. Yes, I do talk to my dog, but less than I talk to my kids on a walk around the neighborhood or at the park. With kids, you redirect and make sure they’re okay. You communicate with them. With a dog, only important topics get covered. It gives me a chance to think while getting some exercise and being in nature.

Whatever your task to divert idealessness — a walk, the gym, reading — make sure it doesn’t stop you from completing the main goal: writing single every day. Writer’s block is a myth, an excuse. Do what you have to do to excuse yourself from you desk, but do yourself a big favor: Always come back to it.


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