Yesterday, in comments, tambo asked about what I had learned about fear as it relates to writer’s block. I thought about that all night and decided to answer in a post, since this is going to take a while.
Writer’s block is based in fear. 100% of the time. I know this in my capacity as the Crown Prince of fear and the Duke of Writer’s Block. Scratch a block, and you’ll find fear. Sometimes you might have to even dig a little, but you will discover fear at the foundation of every block every writer ever suffers.
This fear is actually two-fold: fear of the words and fear of the block. What if the words are no good? What if they aren’t as good as the last ones I wrote? If I fail to write perfectly, then I’m worse than pond scum. And what if this block never lifts? What if I can never write worth a shit ever again?
First of all, they’re just words. Nobody but me ever has to see them. The there’s revision. If they’re no good the first time, I can fix them on revision, and I can revise as much as I want to. I can revise until the words say what I want them to say. They’re just words.
Relaxation is really the key to getting over the fear of words. I am developing a routine of realxation visualization every time I sit down to write. This allows the two parts of my mind to work together. The Rational Prick and the Wild Man together make a powerful force for writing. Instead of fighting over everything, they work together to produce something worth my while.
Just relax and let the words flow. Fix them on the rewrite. That works for me. They’re my words, I can revise them as many times as I want.
But what if the block never lifts? What if I’m never able to write again? What if everything I ever write again is just pure, unrecoverable shit?
It won’t be. I know that now. The reason is that I have found a tool that works for me: Holly Lisle’s upcoming (to be realeased tomorrow) How to Beat Writer’s Block audio course.
I was lucky enough to be a beta-tester for this course, and I consider it the best investment I ever made in my writing. It only takes about 1 hour to go through the entire course. 1 hour and a commitment to breaking open your writer’s block. This course was exactly what I needed to break things loose, to get across to myself that writing is about commitment.
If (WHEN!!) my commitment falters, I know the course is there, a tool that stays sharp, that I can use to blow my block out of the water.
The realization that the words I write are not permanent, the commitment I have made to write words (no matter how crappy), the constant availability of a crutch I can lean on in trying times — these are my shield against the ever-present fear. The trick is not to try to conquer fear, that’s a war you can never win, but to mis-direct it, to hide from it behind routine, to convince myself that I can have courage. Even though I know that’s a lie, I can still hide behind it and keep the fear at arm’s length.
Commit to writing, even when the words are shit. Relax and just let words come out, find a crutch to lean on. It works for me. Maybe it will work for you, too. I hope so.