Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Not Writer's Block

I never say I have writer's block, because I never think I do.

However, sometimes, like right now, I certainly do find writing to be more work than fun.

Recently I have been working on a series of articles for an upcoming special edition. This has been going on for the past month.

I thought I would enjoy working on these stories but they have turned out not to be, well, inspired. I think the stories are flat and lifeless.

I am not happy with a single one of them. (I haven't heard from the editor to know how he feels.)

I have felt like I've been writing these stories with skill only, and very little if any creativity. No zip, no zing. No bang.

It's a good thing I can string a sentence together or I'd be in trouble.

I have sat at my desk with my notes and stared at the computer for over an hour before writing a first sentence. I have performed "notebook dumps" (where I just type up all of my notes in the shear hope that some sentence in there will spark a great idea) and found them wanting.

I have, in desperation and with deadlines looming, started articles with blase and boring leads and hoped the editor would be helpful.

I do not feel I am doing my best work at this time. However, I do feel like it is the best I can do at the moment, if that makes any sense.

I don't think it is necessarily the subject matter (except for maybe one of the stories; they are not all exciting), but my own anxieties that are the cause of the problem.

Looking back at my private journal I see that I have been feeling angst over my health more so than usual. My high blood pressure has worried me, mostly because the medications haven't controlled it yet. It's taking a while.

I don't want to have a stroke or heart attack. I don't want to burden my husband with taking care of me, or paying for my health care bills.

But I can't figure out how to fix myself.

The economy has also loomed large. Like most people, our retirement accounts are much smaller than they were a year ago.

Gas prices are creeping back up.

Food prices never dropped back down.

Our electric bill, like everyone else who is served by APCO, increased by 25 percent. For us that means we're paying a $100 more a month than we did in October.

I have friends and family who are having financial problems. I pray for them.

I have young relatives who are growing up and venturing out into this world. I am scared for them.

It feels like walking on a treadmill that jerks and throws you off. You land on your arm and break your wrist! That is what my health, the economy and the world feels like to me right now. A broken wrist.

So no, I don't have writer's block. I am still writing.

It's just some days ... I have a broken wrist.*

*I don't really have a broken wrist.


  1. I think your writing has been quite good. For me, I think sometimes my feelings color my perceptions of my own writing. I'll read a post I've written one day and it seems fine, then the next day, if I'm feeling a little down (or if I haven't gotten many comments), the same post seems colorless and dull (the same way I'm feeling at the time!) That being said, I've also struggled with my writing lately. Like you, I've felt distracted by worries and concerns. But the good thing is: we're still writing! :-) And that's a very good thing.

  2. That's funny. I never get writer's block either but for some reason, I've been struggling with trying to write a review of this great book I read, "Later, at the Bar." I really want to write it so I can support this writer but for some reason I CANNOT GET IT OUT! The best I could do was write a story for my blog and mention the book. But review-wise, I am blocked. I think it's because I want to write it so bad, because I liked the book so much, I feel pressured. And I can never FORCE my writing.

    It's not worry with me, like it may be with you. Here's some hopeful news--Caterpillar just said that they are going to rehire everyone they laid off as soon as the stimulus package gets passed. Now THAT'S a good sign! Think positive! We need to keep our confidence up!

  3. That reminds me of something that Richard Peck said. He said that we write by the light of the bridges burning behind us.
    Looming deadlines and flat ideas are the worst possible combination. But sometimes that's when our best emerge. You're the sort of writer that would happen to. I really admire you!

  4. I'm working on a story for the paper's yearly insert "Know Your Town." I wonder if your project is something like that. I know you write 5 or 6 times more than me.

    I relate to this though. I am bored if my pieces don't have something in them that feels inspired. I have wondered lately (working on 3 or 4 stories back to back) does it become rote, like a formula after so many.

    I don't like starting them but once I have a sense of the format I feel so much better. Some take longer while others flow easily. When they take longer I think I am simply tired and forcing it.

    I have said, if I can't come up with a catchy first line, I just have to start from the beginning and tell it like it is.


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