My friend Kristi Holl, whose book Boundaries for Writers I recently reviewed on my blog, shared a fantastic article on her Facebook page about creative block. I wrote a blog post about it, but thought I would reprint it here on my website as well.
Since I just spent three frustrating hours yesterday staring blankly at my keyboard, this couldn’t have come at a better time.
The author, Mark McGuiness, talks about seven different kinds of block. As a solitary writer, only six of them concern me, but I confess that at one time or another, all six have been a factor. Sigh!
It’s Block #5 that intrigues me the most. McGuiness writes:
I’m not just talking about money, although a lack of cash is a perennial problem for creatives. You could also be time-poor, knowledge-poor, have a threadbare network, or be short of equipment or other things you need to get the job done.
I had never thought of poverty in these terms before, but I like that way of looking at creative block. I think it was my problem yesterday. When the roofers working next door started playing insanely loud, insanely obnoxious radio music yesterday, I had to flee. I packed up my portable office and sought out the cool peace of the stacks in the college library. It was the first day of the summer session, and I swear I was the only patron in the entire library. It should have been writer heaven, right?
Wrong! I sat there for nearly three hours and didn’t get a thing done. Well, not true. I revised the last chapter I had written in my middle grade novel, but I couldn’t make any headway in the new chapter. I couldn’t see what the characters were doing. I had poverty of ideas.
I think perhaps the problem for me is that I was in a space where I felt constrained physically. Is there such a thing as a kinesthetic writer? That seems to be what I am, because my daily walks always seem to kick my mind into gear. This morning on my walk, the first line of the chapter came to me, whole and complete. And I suddenly had a clear visual image of where my characters were. Of course, I’ve got a stack of manuscripts coming in this morning to be edited, so no writing for me, not today.
But I’ll jot down that line, and maybe storyboard the chapter on some index cards. It’s like depositing money in the bank, so that when I am able to sit down to write, I won’t be idea-poor again.