Yes, Virginia, Writer's Block is Real

It exists as certainly as love and hate and words like that.

You’re still here! I’m so happy! Got friends? Would they like it here, too? Invite them! Friends don’t let friends miss out on Writer Everlasting!

(Is this pathetic? Too much? No, never mind. I don’t really want to know. Have a nice day!)

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I know you’ve heard otherwise, and maybe you’ve even argued it yourself, but writer’s block is real. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. It happens to the best of us. (And more often to the worst of us. Or maybe it should.) Writer’s block is just another way of saying we can’t think of the words. Sometimes it lasts for a really long time. In Truman Capote’s case it lasted for years. (That won’t be you. Don’t worry about it.)

Truman died in 1984, so, sadly, he didn’t live long enough to get in on the blogging kick. He would have loved this sort of thing. He would have been a Tweeting fool and a Facebook fan, too.

Picture Truman Capote, right there in the middle of it all, swiping and snarking away, happy as all get-out for the attention.

It could be that all that snippet-writing might well have saved him from the humiliation of writer’s block, which, in his last years, brought him down so low the dreaded words actually appeared in his New York Times obituary.

For years he claimed to be working on Answered Prayers, a thinly disguised tell-all novel about former high-society friends who had abandoned him earlier, after a shorter tell-all, La Côte Basque 1965, appeared in Esquire Magazine. He was paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in advances over the years he claimed to be working on it — in installments — even though he never produced more than three chapters, one of which was the Esquire piece.

It’s said that in the end Ernest Hemingway was a victim of writer’s block, too, factoring into the overall sense of impotence that brought him to putting a gun to his head. I’d be surprised if he ever admitted out loud that writer’s block had afflicted him, but he did offer advice about how to overcome it:

The best way is always to stop when you are going good and when you know what will happen next. If you do that every day … you will never be stuck. Always stop while you are going good and don’t think about it or worry about it until you start to write the next day. That way your subconscious will work on it all the time. But if you think about it consciously or worry about it you will kill it and your brain will be tired before you start.

Note: I don’t even need to take bets about how Hemingway would have felt about blogging, Tweeting, and Facebook following. He would have hated every aspect, every angle, every annoying, disgusting little nugget. He would have ripped the Internet to shreds. It might just have given him reason to live. . .

But okay, Mr. Hemingway, your method may work for some writers but I’m not one of them. My subconscious might be working on it all the while I’m away from my keyboard but my memory wouldn’t be recording it.

My memory and my subconscious only get along part of the time. The rest of the time they pretend they’ve never heard of each other. No, I have to finish a thought while it’s still fresh or I’ll forget I ever had a thought at all, let alone try and remember what it was.

And that’s the way it is…

So by now you’re probably thinking I might have writer’s block myself and writing about it is my clever way of dealing with it.

I hope you’ll keep that to yourself. My subconscious does work well with my ego. Too well. And someday soon, if the two of them think it’s been successful, they may get together to try this pathetic blogging trick again.

And knowing my memory, it’ll never catch on.


Find me at Constant Commoner

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