The Canadian Writers' Collective

Writing, and writerly tangents

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Words, words, words

a Thea ramble:

I am at a complete loss for words. As a writer, I find this disheartening. Words should be my stock and trade, they should be my passion, my zeal, my reason for breathing. Instead, I feel as though one more word will lay the final weight on my chest that will make my lungs collapse. I’m not just lost for words, I’m resenting the thought that I must write another.

But what could have brought me to this horrible impasse? It’s not just writer’s block—Lord, how I wish it were something that simple; if it was I could hope it will eventually go away and I could blissfully begin writing again. Rather, I’m staring down the barrel of a project I intentionally took on, and while I’m loaded with enough powder to jam the gun, I simply do not want to fire.

This is a different kind of block. One I’ve never before experienced. It has nothing to do with not liking the project—I’m excited about the possibility of getting to know another group of characters throughout the lengthy term of a new novel. It has little, I think, to do with the time I may or may not have to complete it—I may be busy, but I’ve always made time to write as it’s often the meditation that calms my spirit. Nope. Not those things. What I do imagine is that it’s because I’m just tapped. I’ve exploded the wad, so to speak, on other creative endeavors that left me feeling empty and used up, a spent shell.

The self-imposed novel should be an easy thing, then, to put away until I’ve regained my spirit of creativity. Pick it up again later. Yet I can’t. It yammers away inside my mind, my dreams, for heaven’s sake, until I begin to resent the thought of knowing I must put something down and have it come out a skeleton of an outline rather than a piece of wrinkly skin I can pump up with the fat of excess.

A thought comes. I write it down, all the while hating that the lack of inspiration has left it a flat and useless concept with no real energy center. It’s not even the basest red of the energetic chakras. It leaves me feeling cold and I hate my writer self for forcing me ahead when I want to stall. I tell myself I’ll just sit for 500 words. I won’t go any further. Just 500. And so, I settle. I type. I want to cry at the lifelessness of what comes out. The grandiose concept—of writing a plain old fashioned good-hearted story with a little romance, a little human nature, a little misbehaving—evolves into my typical storyline: dark clichéd narratives that refuse to be bent into light humor. Lord have mercy! I’m not a morose person. I’m a loving, silly, well-adjusted woman with a childhood anyone would die to remember. Why are these words—lifeless things that they are—painting a picture of doom yet again? Why can’t I write a good story, for pity’s sake? What is wrong with me? Why can’t I force this story into the thing I want it to be, not the horrible restless invention my work always turns into?

The words don’t rescue me. They can’t answer, having no life and so, no ears or eyes or facial expression. They just flicker there on the screen, being pumped artificial energy by the cord stuck in the socket. They have no life. No life. No voice.

Is it any wonder I’m resentful?


Blogger Patricia said...

Thea, you have a huge wonderful voice, I can totalllly indentify with this, I am writing a novel as well, attempting too, I keep a novel journal at the beginning, with the date and word count each time I sit down and work on total count for May was 5,000!!! No bad I thought, considering they were all done within one week and I've pulled off about 800 words in the last three weeks!!! have a beautiful voice, a wonderful way of expressing youself, your words are alive!!

I’m just tapped. I’ve exploded the wad, so to speak, on other creative endeavors that left me feeling empty and used up, a spent shell.

I sooooo know how this feels,

thanks Thea, xo

Thu Jun 01, 04:17:00 pm GMT-4  
Blogger tamara said...

Yes, yes, yes. How I hear your words, words, words.

My good friend has a motto she uses for everyday life when she can't muster enthusiasm for things: "Fake it 'til you make it." I apply this to my writing as best as I can, and sometimes the results are surprising. Sometimes, of course, the results are far less than that.

Good luck with the project, Thea!

Thu Jun 01, 05:08:00 pm GMT-4  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Neurolinguistic Programming

In the early 1970s in America Richard Bandler, then a young college student studied the work of Fritz Perls and later Virginia Satir and found that he could reproduce their high-level therapy skills to a degree that even surprised him. Bandler seemed to have a natural ability to mimic (model) the language patterns by Virginia and Fritz.

At the University of California at Santa Cruz, Bandler who was well versed in the teachings of patterns in mathematics and computers teamed up with a college professor, John Grinder to help him understand the processes that were at work. Soon Bandler and Grinder, who used what he knew about patterns in linguistics, created a new model for personal growth called NeuroLinguistic Programming.

Bandler and Grinder had set out to model the hypnotic skills of Milton Erickson. They had astounding results. They built a communication model about human "thinking" and "processing" and used that model of how we see images, hear sounds, reproduces smells and tactile experiences in our mind to track and model the structure of subjective experiences.

Sounds very complicated but really it works very simply. Here is an example as used by Paul McKenna - probably the best & most successful hypnotist in the world.

Close your eyes and think of a negative memory. Become involved in the situation as best as you can. Feel the emotions that you felt, see the things you saw and hear the things you heard.

Now take that memory and project it onto a mental screen seeing yourself in the picture. Put a frame around the picture and view it as if it is an old photograph. Next drain all the colour from the picture and shrink the screen to the size of a matchbox.

Have the feelings associated with the picture decreased in any way?

Another good example of NLP involves Anchors. Have you ever smelt a certain perfume or aftershave and had it remind you of a certain person or situation? Gone to a certain place that brings feelings long forgotten flooding back? Or been in any situation that creates emotional responses that would not normally be associated with it? Well if you can answer yes to any of these then you have experienced anchors. Some anchors are associated with positive feelings and some with negative emotions. However, you should be aware that anchors can be consciously installed or already existing ones altered. Here is an example:

Think of a time when you were really happy. If you can't think of one then imagine something that would make you feel really happy. See what you would see, hear what you would hear and feel what you would feel. Really get into the picture and try to experience it as though it were happening now.

Now brighten the colours and make them richer. Increase the volume. Make the picture bigger, brighter, louder. That's it and more and more....

Now press your first finger against your thumb and fully experience your happy feelings. Do this everyday for 2 weeks and you will create an anchor that will instantly recreate these feelings. Whenever you want to feel like that again just press your thumb and first finger together and wham the feelings will come flooding back! Don't believe me? Just try it and see!!!

Thu Jun 01, 06:27:00 pm GMT-4  
Anonymous Denis said...

I find if I'm feeling out of sorts; tired, stressed, or down in any way, I can't write for the life of me. If there is no zest, I can forget about writing. I say, work on your zest, Thea, and the rest will work itself out. I'm sure of it. And forgive me if I'm way off base. Cheers, mate.

Thu Jun 01, 07:00:00 pm GMT-4  
Anonymous Anna McDougall of the Canadian Writers Collective said...

Oh dear, Thea, I'm sorry you're having a tough go right now. Thank you for sharing your insight here.

Thu Jun 01, 11:07:00 pm GMT-4  
Blogger MelBell said...

Thea, for somebody who's all tapped out, you just wrote something fabulous that speaks to all writers. Please continue. At the very least, you're making so many others feel a lot less alone.

Fri Jun 02, 02:29:00 pm GMT-4  
Blogger Steve Gajadhar said...

Hey, I though writing about being blocked was like saying the "s" word on the golf course = not allowed!

Great piece. But see you are writing, that's why this blog is good for us.

Fri Jun 02, 03:18:00 pm GMT-4  
Blogger Myfanwy Collins said...

Nicely put, Thea, as usual. I know for me, I have an awfully hard time writing to an assignment (especially for creative writing). I don't know why this is but it puts me in a panic.

Sat Jun 03, 09:24:00 am GMT-4  
Blogger craig said...

"The self-imposed novel should be an easy thing"
- but it never is.

Those days where you have to force every syllable down on the page like you're tapping a maple tree (out of season) are painful. They are only made up for on those wonderful, exhilerating, never happen enough days when you can't type the words fast enough and the pages fill without you realizing that you even wrote them.
Here is to more days like those.

thanks, Thea.

Sun Jun 11, 11:09:00 pm GMT-4  
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Thu Jul 20, 05:34:00 pm GMT-4  
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Sat Jul 22, 06:41:00 am GMT-4  

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