I think that one of the causes of ‘creative block’ can be attributed to decision making. What I mean is, when working on a project we have to make choices. Dozens of them. Maybe hundreds. Some are minor, like the color of a character’s hair. Others are major and can change the course of the story. And it doesn’t necessarily matter which it is, sometimes even the seemingly harmless decisions can be hard to make.
I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit lately. I always have a couple of stories on my hard drive that I’ve set aside because of being ‘blocked’…or more specifically, I have to make a decision and I’m not sure what to do. I tend to fret about it for a while, write a few thoughts and ideas on the page, then hit ‘save’ and close it out until some point in the future.
But why do I do this? That’s what I’ve been trying to wrap my head around. Is it a deep-seated need to procrastinate? Fear of failure? Inability to commit? All of the above?
The thing is, it doesn’t have to be like this. What I mean is that, regardless of the choice made, I can always go back and try something different. It’s not like what I write has to be permanent. I’m not etching my words in stone or using a permanent marker on a whiteboard. I’m typing in a word processing program. If I decide I made a wrong turn, all I need to do is highlight, delete, and go down another path.
So maybe part of it is fear. Not the scary, shivering type of fear, but more of a fear of doing it wrong. I think it’s normal to feel that way, except for when it prevents me from completing a story. It’s a mind game. I have to remind myself that they are just words, virtual words, and I can change them, delete them, rearrange them, over and over again until I get them right.
This may not necessarily be true for everyone. We all have our own reasons for getting stuck on our creative projects. But the next time you get stuck, think about this. Maybe you’re simply afraid of making a mistake or a wrong decision, and that’s what is keeping you from moving forward.
Just remember, we’re writers and creators. We can build things and we can destroy them. The power is ours, so don’t be afraid to try something different. You can always go back and redo it.
2 thoughts on “A Fork in the Road”
Too true. I’ve hit more than one stumbling block in my writing like that. Lately, I’d say it’s not so much fear as it is analysis paralysis. Where does this naturally lead to if I do it? Would it be better or more realistic if the characters did that instead? Does it create more complications down the road in the story if I do?
The last few days, I’ve taken a “the heck with it” approach and just been going with it. As you pointed out, we can always edit and re-write later. Getting something “on paper” at least has me moving forward though.
I’m glad to hear that. Just getting words on the page, regardless of whether or not they’re worth a damn, is better than staring at a blank page. That’s all that matters with the first draft. Good luck with your projects!