Sunday, April 22, 2012

Writer's Block is just a Mind Game

I've never experienced true writer's block.  I used to think that I had the perfect cure for when the words wouldn't come.

Multiple projects.

I have a blog, I write poems, short stories, and I have quite a few WIPs.  Until 2 weeks ago, they've always been my back up plan.  Then 2 weeks ago, I experienced what so many authors cry about.  Real live unadulterated WRITER'S BLOCK.

Writing anything besides my password to my computer was futile.  Wanna know how serious this was...

I couldn't even come up with tweets!  You know, the type of tweets that writers are supposed to put out.  Couldn't do it.  140 characters or less and I couldn't come up with anything.

And the more frustrated I got, the worse it got.  My fingers would hover over my keyboard and tears would fall.  People laughed at my frustration but I was scared.  What if I couldn't write again.  What if everything I tried to write from that point on was pure garbage?  

I'd never move to New York, that's for sure.  I'd be stuck in Atlanta, with 4 books under my belt and nothing else.  These kind of thoughts made it worse.  But I couldn't figure out where the block was coming from.  What was blocking me.  If I could figure that out, I could get through the problem.

Music has always been my inspiration to write.  Over the last 2 weeks I've listened to my entire John Mayer collection...over 1300 songs, TWICE! Not to mention Mary J Blige, Otis Redding, Bob Reynolds, Jimi Hendrix, Jay-Z, Coldplay, Maroon 5, Etta James, Joni Mitchel, Coltrane, Miles Davis, the list goes on and on. Nothing happened.

I read books, lots of bad books.  Books that I knew I wouldn't finish.  Reading bad books always makes me angry and makes me want to write.  It's that "I know I can write better than this!" mindset.  Nothing.

I spring cleaned, hung out with friends, consumed more bottles of wine than I want to mention and still I couldn't write.  Saturday I woke up at 8am and decided that was the end of my writer's block, damnit!  I was going to write something!  Fast forward 12 hours and I still hadn't wrote anything.  Then I started to cry.   What was the problem?  I started thinking about it, harder than I'd ever had.  And I came up with 2 things.  Fear and anger.

Fear because even though all my eggs aren't in one basket, my writing career is very important to me and eventually I want to do this and only this.  Sooner rather than later and when I think about how much I want this, I freak completely out.  It seems to be going well but sooner or later my luck always seems to run out.  And I can't have that happen again...not with this.

And anger because I'd been letting what other people have to say actually get to me.  It's rare for me to let other people's opinions have such an impact on me...very rare.  I'm not writing to change the world.  I'm writing to change my life and the lives of the people I love.  And there's a word for people who deliberately try to stop your flow, who intentionally knock your hustle.  And there are ways to get around them.

Am I still struggling with Unsung?  Hell yes!  But only because I want it to be perfect just the way I wanted A Hustler's Promise 2 to be better than the first part.  Writer's block is real but it's not about not knowing what to write, it's figuring out how to play the game.  It's knowing what you want and going after it and ignoring the tiny voice in your head that says "this isn't going to work" because that's what it is.  It has nothing to do with your talent.  It's your mind playing tricks on you.  

You are your own worst enemy.  If you fail, it's not because you can't do it.  It's because you won't let yourself do it.  Don't give in to the fear.  We fight for what we want and need every day.  Why would it be any different with your writing?  

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