When writer’s block strikes, I, of course, panic. “Oh my God, three days and all I’ve eked out are a few lousy paragraphs- and not even good ones. I have friends who write books in a month! I’ll never finish this book!”
Then I decide to spend the time editing my book instead, and suddenly, what I felt great about a few weeks ago, now reads like crap that no one will ever buy.
That’s when I know it’s time to “step away from the manuscript.” Seriously, just slowly back away…
I have good days - yes I do - those oh-so-sweet days when my mind is bursting with poetic phrases and deep insight. And on those days, I write. I do not answer the phone. I do not answer the door. I let the dustbunnies pile up. If the cat pukes, I leave it there until the muse passes. I reap that harvest, baby.
And then comes the dry season, when there is no harvest left to reap. Not that I don’t beat that dusty barren land for any sign of life…until I regain my sense and recognize it as an exercise in futility. At that point, I turn the proverbial soil (do laundry), chop wood (clean out my closet), fertilize the fields (read great books, have a long inspiring conversations with friends) and trust that the rains will come and something will take root and eventually, yes, I’ll write again. And the funny thing is…all of that is part of the writing process. Some of my best ideas have come to me while vacuuming, driving, hiking. Someone once asked Arthur Miller if he was currently writing a play. His response was, “Probably.”
The point is, I can’t treat my creative muse like an old work mule, cracking the whip over its head. I have to give it time to rest, ruminate, dream, reflect. And there are some chapters in my book I haven’t been able to write because, honestly, I’m just not evolved enough as a human yet. I have more growing up to do, more insight to gain.
I have to wait.
And seriously…who likes either of those options?
But just because I can’t see it, doesn’t mean a seed isn’t taking root underground right now. I can’t force inspired writing any more than I can force a flower to bloom. It unfolds in its own time.
That’s really a pisser, isn’t it?