Building the pyramids was hard. It was gruesome, arduous, laborious work.
But it was passionate work. Contrary to popular belief, those who built the pyramids were not slaves. These industrious workers were, in fact, building a monument to their idol and his (or her) legacy. Their idol, the pharaoh: an incarnation of their current reigning deity (the ancient Egyptians’ highest ranking God varied depending on the dynasty). Living together in expertly organized villages and with veracious persistence, skill and passion, these individuals gave way to some of the most awe-inspiring monuments known to mankind.
What could all of this possibly have to do with writer’s block, you ask?
Every [good] piece of writing is a passionate piece of writing. The simple act of establishing your author’s purpose (your reason for or intent in writing) creates a boundless source of passion. Whether your goal is to tell a convincing story from an improbable perspective or convince someone to buy something impractical, you must believe your own intent before anyone else will give it a second thought. You ARE an 86 year old spy, you’ve ALWAYS pined for a pair of bacon gloves.
A good writer will adopt their author’s purpose, if only for the sake of creating an engaging piece. This purpose is akin to a creative ‘blind faith’. As the talented writer you are, much like the proficient pyramid workers, you wholeheartedly believe in what you are doing. Of course, passion does not necessarily equal productivity.
Let’s get back to that labor intense process of building colossal, three-dimensional triangles out of mammoth blocks of stone. Removing any ideas about aliens from the equation, these prodigious creations were constructed using rudimentary technology and adept hands. Blocks of stones weighing around two tons, hauled up and put into place by people. These people had a purpose, a passion. This passion was then manifested in their actions.
The term ‘writer's block’ is entirely appropriate. Simply put, it is your own two-ton block that you must haul up to an incredible height to eventually produce something extraordinary from fundamental elements. Easier said than done. Hoisting up one’s proverbial writer’s ‘block’ is a strenuous challenge reserved for the artisan word-workers of the world. But how to overcome the weight of that pyramid block on your back? How are you expected to build a pyramid if you're missing the tools?
The funny thing about writer’s block is that is can serve as both your greatest enemy and your biggest ally. You never lost the tools: that giant heaping mass of lack of inspiration IS your most powerful tool. Bear with me, I know that this may seem a bit out there, but I guarantee you that you too will come to see this oh-too-familiar obstacle as an asset.
Lacking inspiration or a clear cut way to tackle your project, the end seems nowhere in sight and often, one may decide to ‘take a break’, ‘wait for the inspiration to hit’, or ‘scrap the project altogether and write something else’. Persistence is key, my friends. Now, if you decide to scrap the project and do something else because you have a BETTER idea, by all means: write on! However, if you are suffering from a case of hopelessness, I implore you to keep at it! You are building an edifice to the deity of language— no one ever said creating greatness came easy.
A clear way to use writer’s block to your advantage is to WRITE about your creative slowdown. Why not? Recently, I was pretty sick and lacking any source of creativity. Crawling back to society, I knew I had to get something down, but what? The plague of burnout had graced me with her unwanted presence. I am acutely aware of this feeling, I am also a visual artist and creating when there’s a two-ton block of burnout tied around your ankle is simply…excruciating. Yet, whether you’re wielding words or images, getting this frustration out is what keeps it away. I swear by this method and between cups of orange juice and vitamin supplements, I realized what better a subject to write about than writer’s block itself?
Of course, this technique will work in various situations. No matter your topic, simply putting your hindrance into the universe will liberate you from it. With the hurdle exposed, you are able to take matters into your own hands. Words will flow from your fingertips unburdened with the stress of non-completion. For example, ramble to yourself. The act of writing WILL give way to handy bits you can come back to, pick out and use.
“Okay, so writer’s block blows. It is keeping me from being the 86 year old spy I know I can be but I just don’t know where to start! Do I start from her childhood, or should the story start from its ending? It is so difficult to write right now but I know I should. Maybe I’ve lost my touch…but I have to keep trying. I got it! The story will have a non-linear approach, shifting the reader between her current espionage career and the surprising events to lead up to it”!
Acknowledgment is the first step. Get it out there. Write about your lack of writing. Write about anything: digress and meander. The act of writing eventually begets writing. You ARE a talented writer. You have ALL the skills you need. Writer’s block can be overcome with gold old fashioned action.
Grab that big block and build your pyramid of passion. The literary Gods are waiting.