Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Writer's Block?

I've heard of "writer's block," of course, but I can't actually say that I've ever experienced it. I have to confess that I'm not really even sure it exists. As I understand it, writer's block is when you sit down at a keyboard and literally can't think of anything at all to type. I have a really hard time understanding that. If you are writing fiction, write what's happening to your characters! If you don't know what's happening, stop and daydream a bit until you do. If you're writing non-fiction, maybe you need to go out and do some research -- I will admit that it's hard to write factually about something you know nothing about.

I've heard that writer's block can happen when you are too critical of your first-draft prose. I can see that, to a certain extent, but the easy way around that is to just write -- I never try to edit as I'm writing. It's a whole lot easier to change things once you've got at least the first blush down and saved. I can see where this would have been more of a problem in the days of manual typewriters, but with modern word processors, whole sections of the text can be moved around and modified at will.

What I do find can be a problem for me is really just simple procrastination. I may need to look up some background material on the web or in the library, but I just don't feel like doing that right at the moment. Unfortunately, I can't really continue with the writing until I do, so not much gets written in that session. I don't consider this to be writer's block, though. I know what I need, and I know what I need to do to get it, I just don't feel like doing it. Those are the times when I just have to kick myself in the tail feathers and get to it, whether I want to or not. One thing the Navy instilled into me, I suppose, is the need for professionalism. I think sometimes the hardest part about being a "professional" in anything is making yourself do the things you don't really feel like doing, if it's necessary to get the job done. Being a professional writer isn't really any different!

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