That’s what’s going on in the writer’s part of my brain right now. Nothing. The other parts of my brain, the places where I keep anxieties and fears and irrational thoughts, those parts are swimming with ghastly ideas. But the writing part of my head?
It’s been months. About four of them. Four long months of minimal output. I can’t even piece together a blog post, let alone something I’d pitch to a magazine or website. It’s not even that I can’t write about the ideas I have, it’s that I don’t even have any ideas. All those other things that used to keep me from sending out stories or essays or articles - pitching, fear of rejection, cover letters, not knowing where to send my stuff - they have all been conquered. I know how to pitch. I have a cover letter. I have a list of sites that accept pitches/submissions. I’ve made peace with rejection letters. I just don’t have anything. I search my brain.
I’m spending a lot of time on the novel. I’m in the editing/rewriting process, working mostly on structure and mythology. It’s work. It’s hard work, sometimes frustrating work. There’s little creativity involved, which is a good thing, as I seem to be running low on that particular thing.
I lay awake at night trying to come up with words. I wake up at 3am thinking about things to write. I get up at 4:30 and stare at a blank page. I go through my days feeling frustrated and inept. I’m a writer. I should be writing. But I think my problem is not the nothing. It’s the some things.
There are too many other things in my head keeping me from writing. They are keeping me from my usual thought process, blocking the creativity, holding back the words. Because I’m not writing about those things - I just don’t want to - I’m unable to write about anything else. Bottlenecked, as it were.
That’s what’s on the new page I opened up in Scrivener. It’s what’s been there for months. Sometimes a few words will appear but then the backspace happens and the page goes blank again. That page has become my nemesis and I mean to vanquish it but I just don’t have the weapons for this fight right now.
I have to discard all that other stuff before the words will flow again. But there’s a part of me that’s afraid. Afraid that if I finally let loose with all the other stuff in my head - even if I just write it for myself - I’ll find out that those things were not the cause of my writer’s block. That I’ll still have nothing. That the well has run dry.
So I sit here instead and write a bunch of words about not being able to write. And continue to stare at that white page of nothing as if I had something to give it to bring it to life.
I wrote this, so that’s something. But it still feels an awful lot like nothing.
I get up at 3:30 am to write. Well, I get up at 3:30 because I can’t write. I want to see if a few hours of sleep have exorcised whatever demons have been keeping my muse at bay.
I start something – an article I’ve been promising an editor for three weeks. Two sentences in and it’s already a failed piece. I put that in the drawer marked “Brain Hurts. Try Again Later.” Next: another promised piece, a pitch already accepted, an editor waiting. I do a bit of research, track down a couple of links and as soon as my fingers hit the keys, a magnetic force field takes over and I am unable to type a single word. That unfinished piece gets put in the file marked “Unable to Conclude. Come Back Again When You’ve Had More Sleep.” Frustration sets in. I have plans! Ideas! Phrases that would kick Ernest Hemingway’s ass. I just can’t put them all together. It’s the level of hell known as Writer’s Block, the level that Dante himself probably never knew. All he had to do was keep adding levels. He would never run out of ideas as long as numbers still went to infinity. 1,248,474th Circle of Hell: Bronies. Work on editing and rewriting the Great American Novel. File unfinished edits under “Outlook not good.” Realize that this morning is becoming an infinite series of failures. Sit and wonder how other people can not only come up with clever ideas day after day, but act on them, finish them, make them look effortless. Drink coffee. Drum fingers on desk. Sigh a few times. Type random words. Watch the Weather Channel, determine that yes, it is cold outside. Play a game of Word With Friends and decide to use some of those words as writing prompts then realize I don’t even know what the hell “qi” means. Turn on the tv, but Viagra infomercials don’t provide much fodder. Hey, there’s Joe Theismann selling prostate pills. Again, no writing fodder, but great twitter joke material. Wonder what other writers are doing at this ungodly hour and picture some haggard looking guy poised over his keyboard, wearing nothing but boxers and a coffee-stained shirt, suddenly remembering Hemingway’s adage to write drunk. Eventually he passes out, head on desk, drink in hand, not a single word written. I decide to forego the 4am beer. Fuck Hemingway, he’s been nothing but trouble today.