I don’t like the term Writers’ Block. And I really don’t like the reason I don’t like the term. Writers’ Block sounds external, like something that happens to make writing difficult and leaves the writer little control over when it strikes.
This has not been my experience. My experience of slow or stalled progress is that it is usually my own darn fault. I’d love to get to the end of an unproductive day and chalk it up to Writers’ Block, but I know I can’t. My prime writing time is weekdays from 9 to 2 because that’s when my kids are in school and my house is quiet. This is how I recently spent those hours.
8:50 am I’m sitting down with my notebook a bit early and am excited about this ambitious start to my day.
8:51 am I pick up a book someone left on the couch near me, just to read the description on the back.
9:22 am This is when I realize I have spent a half hour reading the description as well as the first few chapters. The worst part... it’s a book I’ve already read. I put it aside to focus on writing.
9:30 am There’s a box of wooden train track pieces in the room. Because they’re there, I keep envisioning a layout for them. I’m not going to actually build a train track when no one is home to play with it. Why can’t I stop myself from looking at the pieces?
9:47 am I am completely disgusted with myself because I’m still thinking about train tracks. I haven’t written anything, and I’m not even thinking about my characters. I’m thinking about train tracks and how it probably would have taken less time to just build a track than I’ve spent thinking about NOT building one. I decide to take a break for lunch. I am aware that it isn’t even 10 am. There is logic in this decision though. If I eat now – when I’m already not getting anything done – then I won’t have to interrupt all the work I’ll be doing later to eat.
11:18 am Turn off the TV. I got sucked into something I was only going to watch for a few minutes while I ate. What has happened to my morning? I stare at the clock as though it has betrayed me.
11:19 am Time to get serious. I could still write an entire chapter before 2 o’clock. That wouldn’t be too shabby.
11:20 am I have written a sentence. I’m still annoyed because I’m patting myself on the back as though a sentence is some sort of accomplishment.
11:53 am That one sentence is still the only thing I’ve written, and I’m no longer congratulating myself. In fact, I’m not sure I even like that sentence anymore.
11:57 am I have crossed out and rewritten part of that sentence. I’m trying to convince myself that I didn’t go backwards. Perhaps it will save me editing time in the future.
1:08 pm Now that I believe reviewing counts as getting work done, I’ve spent an hour reading some of the chapters I’ve already written. I didn’t change more than a word or two, but at least I’m thinking about my book now. Having the last events of the story fresh in my head should help me write the next part.
1:32 pm My eyes keep getting drawn to a fleck of something on the carpet while I’m thinking about what to write. I feel a sudden urge to vacuum.
1:41 pm I will be able to concentrate much better now that the room is tidier.
2:05 pm I hate that sentence. Not because it’s the only thing I’ve written all day and not because it’s a bad sentence. I hate it because I’ve now read it at least a hundred times trying to get it to spur the next thought. All for naught. I put the notebook down and wish I had someone or something other than myself to blame for having only one sentence to show for the day. I wish Writers’ Block didn’t just sound like an excuse.