Wednesday, May 22, 2002

I'm not sure how that last rogue post was published - it was meant to be nothing more than piece of extempore as I warmed up brain and digits, and not written to be published. The subject I was tenuously playing with though remains an interesting to me. Writers Block. I believe I'm as prone to this condition as anyone else is - my rather episodic blogging posts lately are testament to this. My intention here however is to write generally about the condition rather than moan about suffering from it. And in particular to neutralize its encroaching effects on me by taking it as a subject for a post.

Helpfully defined by as: "A usually temporary psychological inability to begin or continue work on a piece of writing" I think describes it perfectly. It is both psychological in that your ability to construct words into sentences and sentences into paragraphs and the skills required to make them readable and in some way illuminating, if there, doesn't go away. And temporary in that only occasionally the psychological quality of inspiration is absent creating a feeling that nothing you think, or see or do seems worth capturing in of writing. But what is going on here?

I have always thought it strange that sometimes I feel interested in everything, attacking and embracing every conceivable subject that comes my way with breathless enthusiasm. At times like these it's as much as I can do to concentrate on any one thing. I want to be doing a thousand things at once, wanting nothing to suffer the lack of my attention whether it's architecture or zoology, Byron or Yeats, Carrie or The X-Men. Writing. I want to go out and do things, I want to stay in and do things. At the same time. Having a single self is not enough; I need to be here doing this, I need to there doing that. At times like this writing and everything else is a pleasure. The flip side though - nothing seems interesting - is equally potent and a psychological curiosity probably induced by too much mundanity and too little excitement from which all ideas seem dull and unworthy of thought or effort. And I guess this is where WB asserts itself.

One solution to the problem I remember reading about once is, that the blocked writer should write - anything, just keep going and going whether or not the words are making any sense. The writer should keep the pen/keyboard going at any cost taking whatever liberties needed to ensure the physical process of writing is continued - if necessary acting like a mad teleprinter flicking the words down when there are words to be printed and flickering in between words in eager anticipation of those to come. Like the teleprinter you must keep going and going, don't stop to dally over the mot juste or for grammatical expediency or to observe the dubious rules of elegant variation. Give no thought to style and tone and do all that is necessary to prevent pauses of any length. Refuse to yield if the brain in a show of stubborn petulance refuses to give you words - any words - write the same one down again and again like a line-writing schoolgirl forced to validate, confront and admit the nature of her crimes.

And then suddenly the imagination is released from its bonds, from its swaddling, as if through effort alone the intellectual process acts as a powerful release like a decongestant snorted up the nose or a blast of Amoclean knock-out fluid* down a drain. Or a well aimed spurt of WD40* on a rusty nut. Clear and Release - release and clear. And a bursting forth of ideas and the words needed to communicate them will flow. Or so they say.

It can't be a serious condition. If it were surely links like this wouldn't exist.


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