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Words Not Flowing?

September 21, 2012

In my early days as a writer I was told that Red Smith, the famous sportswriter, was asked whether it was hard to write. “Not at all,” Smith reportedly said. “All you do is stare at the keyboard until drops of blood appear on your forehead.”

That’s a bit overstated. Writing is hard, but not as hard as harvesting crops for minimum wage. Some days are more difficult than others, when you face a blank screen and wonder, now what? As a journalist I never suffered from writer’s block because I damn well had to write something, often four or five somethings on deadline.

It’s different when you’re working on a novel, short-story or screenplay. You ponder the task ahead of you, and it seems insurmountable. You freeze, you doubt your abilities to put one word after another, and when you do you’re gripped with the fear that those words are horrible. Your hand trembles as you reach for the cocktail shaker once again.

As I posted earlier, I never suffer from writer’s block while writing a creative piece because I was trained as journalist to write every day. What I write may be no better than a second-grader’s account of how he spent his summer vacation, but at least it can be rewritten.

So take heart, fellow scribblers. If you’re blocked or barely getting anything written, you’re not alone. I take my inspiration from H.L. Mencken, quoted below from “Mencken: The American Iconoclast,” by Marion Elizabeth Rodgers:

The writer must plod his way through many days when writing is impossible altogether–days of doldrums, of dead centers, of utter mental collapse. These days have a habit of coming precisely when they are most incovenient–when a book has been promised and the publisher is getting out of patience. They are days of utter horror. The writer labors like a galley-slave, and accomplishes abolutely nothing. A week of such effort and he is a wreck.




From → Writing Tips

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