Thursday, June 11, 2015

Writer's Block

I have writer’s block. In fact I’ve had it for quite sometime. Almost a year if not more. Wikipedia, one of my go-to sites, defines it as a condition, primarily associated with writing, in which an author loses the ability to produce new work or experiences a creative slowdown. The condition ranges in difficulty from coming up with original ideas to being unable to produce a work for years. Throughout history, writer's block has been a documented problem.

The Wiki page also mentions that even the prominent writers, such as F. Scott Fitzgerald and Joseph Mitchell had writer’s block at some point in their career. 

Well, unlike the aforementioned literary greats, writing is not my career. It’s rather a hobby, not even a job. (although I have been paid for my writing works I can’t quite call myself a professional just yet)

I started this blog to practice writing. I love the creative process. Crafting an attractive sentence takes a certain amount of work and concentration. It’s fun coming up with my own metaphors, compound adjectives and phrasal verbs that make sounds or rhyming pattern. I enjoy working on the pace and flow of the piece till they are smooth and fluid while making sure that the reader catches a glimpse of my personality as well. Most of all, I like being able to reflect on my feelings and share my experiences through the art of writing.

In the first year, I made 58 posts but the number of blog posts have dwindled in the years that followed. Lately it seems my inspiration has run dry and I find myself writing nothing at all.

When I do try to write or force myself to do so, I usually don’t like the result and often I give up midway. I can no longer finish a piece at one sitting. I’d postpone and procrastinate. (It took five weeks to finish my last travel piece. It was less than 2000 words and I disliked it greatly) Currently, I have at least four or five travel articles unfinished. Wait, I lied. “Unfinished” means there’s a possibility that I would continue at some point and eventually complete it. Nope, not interested! I might as well file them under the chuck-it pile.

In order to write, I need to have something to say. And I should have a lot to say, considering that I am an avid traveler, I meet interesting people and have exciting experiences. But it seems I have lost my voice. Part of the reason, I believe is that I may have begun to take myself a little too seriously. Reading back some of my early posts, although I was experimenting with different styles and was writing about anything that gave me a jolt really, I can’t say I am proud of them. As I see more of my works published in magazines and on websites, I feel a sense of responsibility. But really, whom do I owe this to? And what am I responsible for? I am not quite sure. Could it be that I want to focus more on quality than quantity? Clearly I have become my own harsh critic.  But I do know that I want to be honest and I should be writing what I would read. 

Concentration is my other struggle. My mind travels. The planets and beyond. With a speed faster than light. I can’t quite stay long on one thing. What’s next is what I’m after, it seems. Even when I do research online for, let’s say, a travel article that I’m writing, instead of reading the web page till completion, I would click on hyperlinks I find in the text that interest me. I just keep on clicking and clicking that, in the end, I’d end up with 25 ongoing tabs on my Google Chrome. And I haven’t read any of them thoroughly either. Going back and forth in between these tabs, I’m reminded how shambolic I have been. That’s when I stop writing altogether. 

In addition to the windows and tabs I have opened, notifications from Facebook would distract me to no end. And I let it. I’m the one to blame. If it’s not from my Mac, it’s the ping from my phone coaxing me to spend more time on Facebook. To see what? Yet another cat video that a friend posted? A funny comment that I feel obliged to type “LOL” to? If it’s not the social media, it is Whatsapp or one of those apps that gets me tangled up in the World Wide Web, assuring an absolute unproductivity.  

Ideas come to me. They do when I’m least expecting them. The desire to write too stops by every now and then. I’d read an article that makes me go, “I could have written that” while sitting on the toilet bowl. Or in the morning when I wake up, still trying to gather up myself, or during a sleepless night, tossing and turning in bed. Or in gym when I’m working out in between sets. However, when I do sit at my desk and open up my Word document, the first thing that arrives - “wait, do I need more coffee?” Or if it’s at night, I’d have to go and pour some more wine. But the ideas have long fled by the time I’m back with a mug. An empty page is all I have left. 

Writing about not being able to write is whacky. Almost an oxymoron. But it’s certainly therapeutic. And I’m close to 1000 words. I’d feel so much better by the time I publish this on my blog. Yes, I still climb up and down between paragraphs. I have scratched some ideas and deleted a few paragraphs even for this piece. Still being a perfectionist but that’s ok, I guess. At least I’m writing.

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