Being creative can be fun, exciting, and entertaining, but it can also be a struggle. I know first-hand how hard it is to sit down in front of a blank screen (or blank sheet of paper), have it all planned out in the brain, but trying to get the words from your head to the page just doesn’t work out.
It’s not the fabled Writer’s Block. It’s basically the struggle to get started, to actually begin the process. I have more story ideas than I’ll ever be able to write, and many of them are fleshed out in my head. Meaning, the entire story is there – or mostly there – so all I need to do is write.
So why the hesitation when getting started? I know I’m not the only one who deals with this. I’ve seen posts on social media from other writers who go through it, as well. It’s like there’s a plug in the drain. If we could just tug the chain hard enough, the plug will pop free and the words will gush out onto the page. In theory.
It’s not procrastination. It’s not a block. It’s…weird.
I’ve thought about this quite a bit over the years. Funny thing is, it doesn’t happen on every story I sit down to write. Some just flow right on out, hit the page, and keep on running. Those are the magic moments for a writer. Many other stories, however, seem to be clinging to the rails, refusing to step into the light. Of course, I can’t blame the story. I know it wants to be told. The issue is with me.
I can only speak for myself here, but I think it comes down to fear. Not shivering, sweating, panicky fear. It’s more of a fear of not doing a good job with the story, that I’m going to let it down in the transfer from my brain to the page. Those magical moments I mentioned above, those stories come out almost exactly like I see them in my head. Not word for word or scene for scene, but damn close to it. The other ones, though, those stubborn buggers make me doubt myself.
Maybe I don’t have them planned out as well as the others. That might have something to do with it. Or maybe it’s moments of self-doubt. Like, will I do this story justice? Or maybe it’s that the story isn’t quite ready to be told. If you’ve followed my blog or creativity podcast, you know that I believe a story should dictate how it should be told. We can’t overthink it or try to force it to go in a certain direction. You may want it to go here, but in the end the story is going to go where it needs to.
So maybe the story isn’t ready. If that’s the case, then I can live with that. That means it’s not a failing on my part. Whew.
But then the question becomes: what do I do about it? Simply put the story back in the filing cabinet in my unconscious mind and wait until it ripens? Force myself to start on it? I’ve done that a few times, but it usually doesn’t go well. Again, the story isn’t ready to go and I’m poking and prodding it like a stubborn mule. “Git goin’, you dumbass!” I’m luck that mule hasn’t kicked me yet.
Then again, maybe it’s just part of the process. We write the stories when they’re ready to be told. We have to be patient, bide our time, work on other projects until the alarm dings and the story is ready to come out of the oven.
Mmm, fresh-baked fiction. Now that’s satisfying.