Writer's Block

I don't get writer's block, not in the traditional sense, at least.

Not long after "Pray" was released, I did a Q&A at the library in my hometown.  One of the people there asked me how I dealt with writer's block.  I'm pretty sure Nicole smiled when she heard the question, because she knows only too well that I have different types of problems with writing.

I have written three books and I have three more in the works -- literally, I have pages of work completed for each of them.  This doesn't even take into account various short stories, comic book scripts, and the random television or movie idea.

I have more ideas than I know what to do with, but I would hazard a guess that most of them are awful.  But that's the thing with writing: you never really know until you write it.  I've spent months working on something that I ultimately kill off because it's not going anywhere.  I might later go back and pick apart the carcass to find parts I can use elsewhere, but I don't get back all the time I put into it.

This isn't to say that I don't get writer's block, because I do.  It's just that my version doesn't involve ideas, it involves sentences.

I labor over every single sentence I write.  If I manage to make it through an entire paragraph without stopping to consider what I'm doing next, it's a huge accomplishment.  I read about people who just crank out first drafts and I'm always amazed.  I see writers on Twitter saying things like "Just hit 50K words, shooting for 75K before the end of the day!"  I can't even wrap my brain around that.

There's something more debilitating than writer's block, though: apathy.  I find that apathy kills more of my writing than anything else.  At some point, whether it's a paragraph into a new blog entry or ten chapters into a novel, doubt creeps in.  Why am I writing this?  Is it really any good?  Does anyone really care about this?  What's the point?

That shit can kill you, but I can't imagine there's a writer in the world that doesn't experience it.  Fortunately, I think most writers also have the ability to rationalize just about anything, so when those doubts do creep in, they can be pushed away.  The issue is how long that takes, and how difficult it is to recover.

In some ways, I might be better off if I actually had writer's block.  Perhaps writers who struggle with such things eventually break through with only good ideas, as opposed to my situation which has a undefinable signal to noise ratio.  Imagine being able to invest in one idea that you know is good instead of ten ideas that you're unsure about.

Maybe writer's block wouldn't be so bad.