I don’t have “writer’s block,” I have “writer’s ennui.” This is a self-discovered ailment and is hard to diagnose, but I am quite sure I have it.
Last month I was up an at em every morning ready to write. Now? Not.
Last year I was reading all of my favorite authors. Now? Not.
A few weeks ago I was overflowing with ideas of new novels and couldn’t wait to write them. Now? Not.
But today, I’ve found a bit of inspiration thanks not just to this new blog I’m keeping, but because of the other writers I am following. The best of them right now to help me overcome this malady is the post I just read by Eric Lahti called Just Keep Writing, Just Keep Writing (see here).
Some of the more poignant passages, and I hope he doesn’t mind me pasting them below, I found are these:
Most things we do – whether they be physical or mental activities – get better with practice. As long as the practice is good practice, anyway. I used to tell my students in Kenpo to practice their basics like they really meant them because in a stress situation, when your brain turns to mush, you’re going to fall back on what you’ve practiced. If you’ve practiced never kicking above the shins or putting your weight into your punches, guess what’s going to happen.
Combine that one with this one and you got yourself some inspiration.
Writing works the same way: Practice will get you better at it. Or, at the very least, more efficient at it. The quality of your writing will only improve as you strive to improve it. Read a lot, write a lot. That’s Stephen King’s philosophy toward being a good writer. Just keep writing. It’s a job as much as it’s an art. Like any art, you’ll get better at it the more you do it.
This brought to mind my boss’s favorite quote. He has this quote hanging on his wall and he actually references it often, so it’s not a passive document in his life, this is something he uses and pushes often.
Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.
Most writer’s have probably heard that one before, and it’s a good one. Perseverance beats talent, genius, and education. I love that. You can be better than talented people, smarter than geniuses as long as you persevere.
Eric hits on one last aspect that I have trouble with. Writing well verse writing. Writing well comes with drafts and time. It doesn’t just pour out. Writing well is done through edits and re-writes. Writing DOWN comes with perseverance and with dedication. It’s not as important to write well, particularly in the first stages of the book, then just writing it all down.
The goal isn’t to write the greatest prose on Earth, the goal is to write. Just like anything else out there, if you want to get good at writing, you need to write. If you want to get better at punching or kicking, go punch or kick things. And then write about that experience.
So, thank you Eric and Calvin for giving me the kick in the ass that I need. I hope too that these things I’ve written might help others receive their own kicks in the asses. Helps me to get one every now and then.