By Tracy Kiely
To be honest, I’ve always confused “being in a rut” with “suffering from writer’s block.” I know there’s a difference, but it’s hard to explain that difference when you’re staring at a blank computer screen with a deadline looming. And when you are in that situation, you really don’t give a rat’s ass what the technical term is; you just want it to stop.
It’s kind of like being asked, “Is it a sharp pain or a dull pain?” Um…it’s pain. And I’d like it to stop. Now.
I once read a quote by Roy Blount, Jr. that said, “I think writer's block is simply the dread that you are going to write something horrible. But as a writer, I believe that if you sit down at the keys long enough, sooner or later something will come out."
Thanks, Roy. That’s very helpful. But, somehow, I don’t think Old Ray shares a home with three kids, two large excitable dogs, one permanently peeved cat, and an ever-growing pile of laundry. I’d like to see Roy sit for hours on end waiting for “something to come out.” Something will come out – but I doubt an obscenity-laced rant – even if it is woven in an artistic-like tapestry – is going to do the trick.
So, what does one do? Well, here’s the thing. I don’t really know. I’ve found taking the dogs for a long walk helps somewhat. Mainly because the Gods are cruel and they feed my brain all sorts of lovely ideas when I am away from paper and pen.
Writing something very different from your usual style can help too. Read something, perhaps a set of instructions. Now, write it as if you were, say Hemmingway.
“Nick picked up the wrench. It was a good wrench. It was heavy and made well. Nick felt the weight of it in his hand. He drank his martini and thought, 'This is a damn good wrench. There was a God. All was right in the world.' After a while he thought of her. He walked home alone in the rain.”
Now, does this do anything? Hell if I know. But, it will get your brain working a bit differently. It might spark an idea. Or it just might make you want a martini. I can’t say for sure. But, after staring at a blank screen for three hours, both are acceptable outcomes.