Trying a New Rx for Writer’s Block, or: Why I Write

I don’t think I’ve ever had it this bad.

It’s the clawing sensation that constantly nags at my fingertips and edges of my mind, telling me that my nails are getting longer because I’m not breaking them as much through intense typing. That I haven’t started a new Word.Doc in a while. That I haven’t opened up my old Word.Docs in even longer. That the section of my brain labeled “Creative Writing” is filling not with ideas, but with the proverbial cobwebs that take the place of characters, plots and descriptions.

This is called writer’s block.

I’ve had it before, but it’s never been so absolute. It’s not Jack Torrance bad — I’m not going to go crazy and start murdering my roommates with an ax — but let’s just say I have newfound sympathy for the pre-homicidal plight of The Shining‘s main character.

From one writer to another, Jack? You probably won't get very far chopping down doors. Try running outside, taking a long walk or just drinking a cup of tea. No property damage and fewer annoying screams from Shelley Duvall.

Last semester I didn’t have time to work on my prose because I was overwhelmed with news writing. This semester, I don’t have that excuse, and I find myself with more and more free time that I could be using to exercise my writer-parts (sounds dirty!) rather than frittering it away watching Netflix reruns of Mad Men and Arrested Development.

This blog post is a way for me to (hopefully) jump back into the inspiration pool. A few entries back I wrote about why I got into magazine journalism, but I never mentioned my reasons for writing, period. Maybe just writing about that will get my mind back in the right place and I can continue on throughout the evening thinking up my next great story.

Usually I have so many ideas floating around my head, it’s all I can do to get them down on physical or virtual paper. And, as my work ethic has always dictated, if I’m going to get them down, I might as well do it well. I can’t sing, can’t act and can’t dance (my Wii told me so). But I can write. I can tell stories and develop characters that people will (I think) want to read.

The reason I write is not to inspire people to read my work, but to get them to want to write their own stories. If there’s no inspiration on the reader’s end, you haven’t gotten through to them. That’s what I consider to be good writing; stuff that makes me want to open up that blue notebook I’ve been working in for almost two years now and start jotting down notes for my own compositions. Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follet, Stieg Larsson’s Millenium trilogy and anything by Chuck Palahniuk or Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. makes me want to write. Reading work by friends like Cody, Rachel, Bethany, Tom and Amanda makes me want to write. Heck, I’ll give Stephanie (shudder) Meyers credit; Twilight made me want to write because if she could get her sparkly vampire rubbish published, I could get the book I wrote back in ninth grade on the Bestseller List, sans editing.

And trust me, Identical was no masterpiece.

So after chugging out this post, I’m not sure if I’m going to be able to find a new idea. Maybe blogging is a new prescription treatment for writer’s block, or maybe writing this has simply made me want to reread The Shining.

In any case, I’ve been told to do everything from going on a run (with notebook in hand) to forcing myself to write a page or two about anything, just anything that comes to mind. I think I’ll try the latter tonight, since joggers at 11:15 p.m. run the risk (haha, punny!) of getting hit by a car. Hey, potential vehicular manslaughter might count as inspiration!

Maybe as an added kicker, I’ll post what I write. We’ll see what I can turn out in the next hour.

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