The Little Birds Fly

Down to the Calico Sea

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Overcoming Writer's Block
Image result for old typewriter

I have Writer's Block.  Actually, this proclamation does not do my situation justice.  It has taken me two hours to find the right picture to illustrate this blog entry about writer's block.  Yes, folks - I have both picture block and writer's block about writing on the subject of writer's block (takes a pause to wonder indeed if I have WB cubed...I digress).  I have written blurbs for friends, but nothing much else.

In fact, I have had this for a fair while.  I gather it is net result of what happens when you have been in higher education for half a decade.  I was writing for enjoyment until about midway through my English degree, when there was a creative writing module on the syllabus. Oh-Kay Doh-Kay, I thought, flexing my fingers. This is what I was born to...I can do this, I can nail this sucker (takes a pause to imagine myself prepping to the sound of Rocky's theme).  Previously, quite a few people liked, nay even loved what I wrote.  Never lacked in creative juices - until I submitted my first offerings for scrutiny.  I stood back and surprisingly, I did fairly well.  Our group pooled our talented scribbles and I found a good balance of positive criticism.  That didn't last long.  Soon, it became harder to replicate - especially when I felt there were things I wrote that I was proud of, that was ultimately turned to ash.  There was other stuff that I wrote that I truly believe was utter tosh, only to find that my fellow students gushing over it.

Later, part of my Applied Studies portfolio was to write and submit entries to magazines and on line competitions.  The pressure was phenomenal; I wasn't just trying to write articles or enter competitions - I was having to write to degree standard.  I was being marked not on my ability to be published, but to write convincingly for the marking board.  I think it burnt out all my creative writing circuit boards during this time.  I did get a response from said magazines/media.  One published my writing, with a thank you; another gave me a second prize of £25, which was kinda nice, but not enough to fan the literary world into a blaze, nor indeed keep me in Hobnobs and tea <---a staple that has probably kept writers at their desk since time inmemorial.  Also, I think a year of intense study in regards to my major dissertation, has left me feeling that I can do without the headache of editing and tearing things up.  For the record, a doctorate is about 100,000 words - the equivalent to a 400-500- page novel. Not to mention the amount of writing that goes round the subject, whether it is in regards to the doctorate or the pride-and-joy novel.

There are those who say that writer's block is a fallacy and it is something you don't find in other professions.  For instance, you don't get plumbers' block - they are the ones who usually unblock other peoples' problems.  Ditto lawyers, who don't have any sort of block, unless you are referring to the anial-cranial inversion problem - even then, they can pop their head out long enough to consider giving you a bill.  The problem is that writers, just like any other artists, have a long oasis of blankness - coupled by the fact that their protagonists/deuteragonists/antagonists are not talking to them.

So, since then - nil, nada, niet.

Thing is, I want to write...I need to write.  I find myself writing via apps, on post-it notes, backs of envelopes, scraps on the desk - even on my hands.  I have plenty of small scale ideas; what I lack is structure.  This is not to be confused with discipline.  When I know where I am going, I am definitely on task.  I have a complete works of the calico_pye degree file spanning five years to prove that.  Recently, I have been looking at my favourite fantasy authors' interviews and articles on creating their imaginary world, specifically JK Rowling's idea on a train to Manchester and Terry Pratchett's formulation of DiscworldI also look to cramped, dystopian futures, like Patrick McGoohan's The Prisoner; whose protagonist continually looks for a way to leave the spy debriefing unit that masquerades as a mediterranean holiday camp.  In fact, I would go as far as to say that my recent writing experiences have been as empty as McGoohan's episode 'Many Happy Returns.' The Village is empty, there is little dialogue, he tries to escape and eventually finds himself back at the Village complete with birthday cake.  Except I lack cake and a welcoming party.

* theatrical sigh *

I am hopeful to overturn this problem, beginning by this blog entry.  If there are any other wannabe scribes out there who want to shout out - feel free.  I would hate to feel I am alone in this void.

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Yeah, but writing is creative. Unplugging a sink or filing a lawsuit isn't creative, it's just the nature of the job. Writing is hard. You will overcome this. You just have to keep at it... just like he (No. 6) did.

I might go to AO3 and write a Prisoner story - I have threatened to do so several times :-)

You should! There's isn't enough Prisoner material out there!

It would be a surreal one, not unlike the Terrence Feely episodes (Schizoid Man/The Girl Who Was Death) or Anthony Skene (A,B & C/Dance of the Dead). Or...maybe the same episodes with a different point of view angle. For instance, I would have liked to have known what happened to the Patrick Cargill figure when he resigned as No.2 in 'Hammer into Anvil' or what happened to the children, who No.6 was reading to, from the episode 'The Girl Who Was Death.'

Edited at 2018-03-23 10:52 am (UTC)

I wondered if those were the children of someone the Village 'acquired' and if that meant their residents also included entire families. The more I watch the episodes, the more questions I have.

I have a point of view on this, but may save it for the plot.

you just got to write-make it a job-work-sit down and write each day for a certain period of time each day and not write for any other reason but because you are a writer

I think you are right. I should spend my time considering writing as a job. It would certainly give me structure.

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I am surprised, but thanks, Bot :-)

No, you're not alone.
I'm more of a non-fiction and poetry writer, though.
I'm trying to work out my best survival strategy. With a patchy employment history and in my 53rd year, I realise I am probably trapped in this shithole of a country: I couldn't cope with the physical upheaval of another move and the risk of deportation if I couldn't get a job in France in 3 months. My idea is to try and live as far as possible as if I were there. So long as I can manage visits from time to time, I'll be OK, though I still wish I had the power to go full Saint-Just on everyone who voted for Brexit. (Sabre or guillotine? Hmm……)

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