“Plumbers don’t get plumber’s block, and doctors don’t get doctor’s block; why should writers be the only profession that gives a special name to the difficulty of working, and then expects sympathy for it?”
Oscar Wilde said there was no such thing as writer’s block. Frederick Forsyth, who sounds a bit scary, says it’s ‘whimpery’. There is writer’s laziness and writer’s lack of confidence though. Writing a book – and I’ve done it twice now, somehow – involves so much time and effort and RSI and panic and feels like trudging your way through thick mud. But somehow it gets done, the disparate plot comes together, you think of enough things for the characters to say and do, you didn’t accidentally bring back in someone who died or change name halfway through, and you come to the end. Great! Jubilation, all easy from now on, career as writer opens up, practice witty banter for going on Late Review, crack open cava (too soon for champagne) etc.
Then you have a little break reading books, vaguely doing ‘research’, and sometimes scribbling little notes like ‘Maybe next heroine’s father eats beetroot?’ ‘Amusing scene with dog?’ etc.
But at some time you have to actually start writing The Next One. That’s when the panic sets in. You’ve no idea how you did it last time or the time before, like someone spinning plates or executing an accidental skateboard jump. The empty page looms.
But maybe it’s just laziness? I’m afraid of laziness, some combination of Catholic guilt and Protestant work ethic perhaps (I was taught by nuns). So I’ve decided to put myself on a monthly regime of 1,500 words (10 pages) a day. I should done this in November with everyone else, but December will be good, if I can write over the holidays and not sit in a stupour of chocolate and TV and other people’s books (OPB?) http://www.nanowrimo.org/ The idea is to write 50,000 words in a month. I have to say this doesn’t faze me too much. That’s about 1,500 a day, roughly, right? I have a helpful three-hour commute each day that should be enough time. Right? (Watch me fail).
As long as I don’t give it to laziness, lovely Christmas TV, chocs, cups of tea, paperbacks, sales shopping… Because as every reluctant typing student knows, the quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog. Or as the Daily Mail might have it, quick brown (immigrant?) fox jumped over the honest British dog to steal all the jobs and housing.
And news just in, my train home has had delays of up to 70 minutes all afternoon. Not even snowing. Kind of them to give me extra writing time, isn’t it?