I Miss My Writer's Block ~ BitterSweetLife

Monday, February 18, 2008

I Miss My Writer's Block

I tend not to suffer from writer's block, but from the opposite: a lack of writer's block, also known as writer's exposure. When we moved into our new loft last January, I remember admiring the view and soaking in the sunlight that flooded our east-side windows, strong enough to tan you in 20 minutes. The place felt so bright, so healthy, so open... Too open.

"Maybe this is where I'll write my novel," I told my dad expansively. Now I'd amend my prediction slightly. Maybe this is where novels come to die. Aidan and I are in the middle of an arts and crafts project, making a sign out of posterboard to tape to our front door: Daddy's Book, R.I.P.

Sad thing is, I should have known better. My brother-in-law, Scott, warned me about this. He said there are a few things that should never be sacrificed in a marriage, things like open communication, personal integrity, regular date nights, and having your own home office.

Instead, I suffer from the opposite of writer's block--our loft has no real walls--only a living area and several partitions a good yard short of wallhood. Everyone who writes knows that writing is a focused activity. Writers need some separation, the ability to be deliberate, to sometimes bar oneself from the demands of a hungry, poopy, sippy-cup-throwing world. Writer's block.

This is shorthand for an office or a notebook computer. No amount of coffee can dispel the feeling that you're trying to write a serious letter in the middle of an airport terminal run by enthusiastic, over-caffeinated midgets.

Occasionally, I wake up in the morning feeling rested, and think, Today I'm going to write that post I've been thinking about for two weeks. And then I change a couple diapers, hand out some bananas and crackers, make coffee with a great deal of hands-on assistance, watch the first 25 minutes of Finding Nemo for the 47th time, play catch with a basketball, football, and small stuffed lion (simultaneously), subjugate a rogue remote control car, pick up barnyard dominoes three times--and think, Today I'm going to lie on the couch and have that semi-conscious movie marathon I've been thinking about for two weeks.

Like someone said, "You may have to live in a crowd, but you also have to live like it, and you darn well have to eat what they're eating. " Writing ideas run rampant around here, but they tend to get struck by passing traffic. What I need is some writer's block to keep the suckers contained. It's safe to say that our next place of residence will have real walls, multiple real walls, walls that reach to the ceiling, walls that give writer's block a chance.

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Regi G said...

If walls are what you need, many bathrooms come equipped. :)

5 minutes is all it takes to jot down an idea or two. It doesn't help if you are gripped by a scene, but it does help for a few moments of silence/aloneness.

Will Robison said...

I feel for you. I'd go insane if I couldn't get an hour alone every day - whether I write or not. You might find that the best thing to do is volunteer for some of those mind drugingly boring jobs like washing dishes or things like that that don't involve any outside help. It won't give you any extra time to write, but it will give you time to think. And thinking is the next best thing to writing.

After that, the only other suggestions I have are Mickey Finns or tranquilizer darts. You might have some grumpy patrons afterwards, but in the meantime you'll have a few hours free and clear to write.

Ariel said...

@ regi: You're right about bathrooms being a haven of refuge for quick thoughts(never thought I'd write those words). Problem is, I'm trying to tackle several kinds of writing, some of which (commercial copywriting) require sustained concentration.

@ Will: Haha...thanks for the sympathy, dude. Sounds like we're similar in that we need the occasional hour to ourselves. Dish washing--good advice, and I score extra points with Lindsay when I do it.

And thinking is the next best thing to writing.

Here, here!

Regi G said...

In that case, might I suggest a fast food restaurant that is not very busy? I do that, at times, when I have some heavy studying to do, and no extra hands.

At any rate, I agree with Wil. I used to wash dishes. And, on that note, you could also talk to yourself ;p, recording it for later, so you don't miss those extra good thoughts.

Anonymous said...

I noticed a lot of "I's" in this post: "I feed Aidan a cracker, I change lots of diapers, I wipe noses," etc.

Last time I checked, you weren't a single parent. You do have a wife, you know ;)

Partnered With You In The Mayhem Of Child-Wrangling, er... Child-Raising


Culture. Photos. Life's nagging questions. - BitterSweetLife