Monday, February 16, 2009

Writer's Block?

"There is no such thing as writer's block
for writers whose standards are low enough."
-William Stafford

The first time I read that, I thought it was a joke.
Then I realized it was a very practical insight.

When I'm working on something & I get writer's block
it's just about always something to do with some scene
I'm afraid that I can't write, or can't write good or true enough.

It just happened to me as a matter of fact on a new book.
The problem was with this guy who is organizing a group of people
ostensibly for a good purpose (and also to make a few bucks)
and he realizes he's starting a cult, and now what is he going to do,
stop or continue.

So, per Stafford's quote, I wrote the scene
with the lowest of standards, just as if I were a simpleton
in as simple a language and style as possible, bare bones,
putting details in as they came: an exchange of money,
something ambiguous somebody said, the silence,
the feeling the guy has of his potential power,
a lie he tells as he decides to keep it going
until he can decide if he wants to keep it going--
until I had enough of the bones of a shape of a scene
to build on & play with.

So for me, it has to do with my fear
of a particular important part of the story
I don't want to face for whatever reason, psychological,
creative, and the cure is facing it with no thought
of making it perfect or even right or good or logical,
or anything but a kind of almost idiot's step-by-step
take on the basics of it.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Richard!