Death Is the Ultimate Form of Writer’s Block
“I write for the same reason I breathe … because if I didn’t, I would die.”
― Isaac Asimov
Steven Barnes, who is currently writing a sequel to his excellent book The Kundalini Equation, defines writers block as anything that interferes with your writing and getting published. For most of the rest of us, we are just concerned with not getting stuck while writing. Now while the title of this blog is literally true for most of us, I mean it in a semi-metaphorical manner.
On a side note, L. Ron Hubbard became well-known as the most prolific dead writer after his death as book after book came out with his name on it. I am not sure, but the real record may belong to the late great J.R.R. Tolkien.
So what do I mean by, “death is the ultimate form of writer’s block” in a semi-metaphorical sense?
I realize that if that was not intended as a metaphorical question then there is a fair chance you would want to hunt me down and beat the snot out of me. Unfortunately I have the obligatory respiratory problems associated with writers. Fortunately I really did intend it as a metaphorical question.
Let me first put this one disclaimer: everyone writes differently and however you write if you actually are writing (and it doesn’t suck) you are doing it correctly. Don’t let anyone tell you differently.
I find that most people who are actually dead don’t really do a lot of writing. I also find that it’s really hard to do writing when you’re busy attending other people’s funerals. Furthermore, I find that it is extremely difficult to write when all your friends are dying. There even comes a point where casual acquaintances dying will throw you off your game. Now for the metaphorical part. Generally speaking I find that, at least for me, the more stress I’m under the less productive I am as a writer. I had decided that I was just becoming less and less creative as I got older and possibly suffering from some cognitive decline until I went on my first vacation in this century.
To be honest, I don’t remember the last time I went on vacation. I had jobs that I pretended were my vacations in the ‘80s. Well, let’s not get too sidetracked here. So lounging on the beach in the Bahamas at the end of the one whole day I spent there and two notable things began to happen. First off, the warm trade winds seemed to blow away layer after layer of tension and stress. The second thing that happened was I started getting writing ideas. For instance, I started working on an idea for doing a story or possibly a screenplay mashing together the ideas of a superhero and science fiction story. Several other ideas came to mind and I started processing data that had been floating around in my head for a while.
I have noted before that a high percentage of famous authors were alcoholics. (I keep meaning to take it up myself.) I think there are two aspects to this. One is that when you’re too tense and worried it is very difficult to be creative. The other is sometimes it’s better to have fewer inhibitions when writing.
Yeah, I also found out that when your potential publisher dies, that can be a serious block to getting published. A similar thing might be said for one’s agent or even their parents depending on the situation. Don’t ask!
If you burned all your bridges and everyone who might publish you hates you, then the industry itself would be dead to you. Obviously that would seriously impede your ability to get published.
I realize that you know while I’m saying this, somewhere out there there is someone who doesn’t drink, who has good health, is worried about losing their house, is having a lot of pressure put on them at work, is at a friend’s funeral and just received a text telling them that a beloved relative is in the hospital and terminal who, due to this juxtaposition, just became inspired to write what will be the next great novel because not everyone works the same way and the universe is that perverse. Frak you, seven to nine word rule!
The first unbreakable rule of writers is to write, and the second rule is to read but the third necessary rule is to live, have a real life. The difficulty with this is that real life is stressful and stress makes it difficult to write sometimes. There are a lot of ways of dealing with stress such as (my favorite) going for a long walk, meditation, getting drunk (not good for you), smoking (worse for you), smoking and drinking (I’m not going to say anything), going on vacation, or slowly and gruesomely murdering the people you’re really annoyed with metaphorically somewhere in the middle of chapter three.
At this point, we’ve reached a spot where I no longer feel like I have anything to say. I’m concerned that I may not have said anything that will be useful to you or new, and that is an example of the death of inspiration. Unfortunately, it hit at the same time as I ran out of directly related information, so I’m afraid I’m going to have to kill this one. I hope you enjoyed this blog post and will share it.
“Sorry, thought I’d something more to say.” — Pink Floyd.
Good bye until next time.
Copyright © 2013 Julian Thomas Reid III