August 31, 2011

Writer’s Block, Part Four: Wrong Project

Posted in Writer's Block tagged at 11:39 am by Rebecca Hein

The Muse, in her caprices, may have something different planned for us than we had in mind for ourselves. More than once I’ve sat down to write an article or book chapter only to discover after a long tussle that I didn’t have writer’s block at all. Rather, that day’s flow and creativity was aimed in a different direction and I didn’t realize it.

Once I’ve steered right, words and ideas pour out of me, and I see that my creativity is free and open as long as I don’t try to bend it in the wrong direction.

August 24, 2011

Writer’s Block, Part Three: I Don’t Want to Face a Problem in My Life

Posted in Writer's Block tagged at 12:52 pm by Rebecca Hein

Nothing stops creative flow like the refusal to face a difficult situation. The problem in your life, whatever it is, doesn’t have to be the subject of your writing project to interfere with what you’re trying to do. Simply backing away from the apparently unrelated situation is enough.

Shying away from life problems and your feelings about them is a form of being untrue to yourself, and since creativity requires above all that we be honest with ourselves and readers, we gain nothing by trying to avoid the pain and confusion of a major problem.

August 17, 2011

Writer’s Block, Part Two: I’m Afraid to Write About This

Posted in Writer's Block tagged at 8:22 am by Rebecca Hein

It’s hard to write about something that will upset you because, in your own attempts to properly tell the story, you’ll almost certainly run into your deeper feelings. You may sense this before you get that far and find that your sentences twist and turn in your hand like slippery snakes.

This battle may prolong itself for some time before you realize that the words aren’t the problem. Rather, in shying away from pain, you’re skewing your creative process, and your writing is likely to dead-end until you find the courage to face your feelings.

August 10, 2011

Writer’s Block, Part One: Fear of Offending Others

Posted in Writer's Block tagged , at 8:42 am by Rebecca Hein

If you have writer’s block, and it doesn’t yield to practice writing and the flow this activity should create, it’s time to look for a more subtle cause. Nothing halts us like a sudden encounter with something we’re afraid to write and one reason for this fear is that we don’t want to offend.

Yet if we’re writing honestly, someone will be offended because in being true to ourselves we will assert our own personalities and views, which not everyone will share. Courage is needed, along with the understanding that there’s no way around the problem.

August 3, 2011

Two Levels of Ability

Posted in Practice Writing, Stages tagged , at 1:00 pm by Rebecca Hein

Writing on demand rather than by inspiration usually produces a lower quality result. Yet is this a reason to wait for the Muse and write little or nothing between her visits?

Musicians probably have an easier time with these two levels of ability because it’s built into our experience. We practice daily, or as often as possible. We also perform. Practice is easy compared with performing; there’s no audience and comparatively little pressure. Performance, with its accompanying stage fright, plunges our normal ability down so far below what we’ve learned to expect from practicing that it feels like a different activity.

“What happened to my playing?” is the inexperienced performer’s lament, and this lasts until he or she adjusts, through many performances, to that inevitable comedown from sublime moments in the practice room.

But writers have no comparable culture to prepare us for two levels of ability. Therefore we’re disheartened when “demand” writing proves less lively or less imaginative than what we’re used to. Experience and persistence will overcome this discouragement, but to provide that experience you have to do enough writing on demand.