Writer’s Block: Finding The Elusive Muse

writers+block_fed465_5042647You thought you had it. Last time you did. Now you got nothing—just booze and chocolate and that asphyxiated worry clutching at your throat.

What the hell happened?

You were on a roll. You had invoked the muse. You had the ever-glitter of fire, gamma and lightning of insight, and the opal and tourmaline of imagination. But now, like cutting a candle’s wick, you suddenly find yourself sitting in the dark.

The air is unexpectedly cold. The birds on the trees seem to be chirping in pain. And you begin to avoid the eyes in the mirror because you know you are totally reduced, totally dangerous. It took you a moment to deliberate and then it came to you almost in a whisper: You’ve lost your voice. Your passion has bled dry.

It is the total death of every writer—the immortal assailer, the ultimate pestilence, le gros degueulasse: Writer’s Block!

It tells you you don’t know where you’re going. It tells you, “you don’t know your characters’ motivations, you have no idea how to advance them, and the same goes with plot.” Then it tells you, “you’ve spent two years writing this damned thing, one year to clean it up, and another year shopping it around—are you really willing to go through this again? You’ve done everything you could and the truth is you can’t do any better.”

By the time you are done with yourself, you are creatively obliterated.

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Ray Bradbury once said that writer’s block is your heart telling you, “I don’t like you anymore.” Because in reality, the problem is not some outside force trying to hinder you—the problem is you all along. Because you keep doing what you don’t like to do. Because you keep concerning yourself in what others want. Because without knowing it you’ve sold out.

Your insistence in “invoking” the muse to write properly has become a way of sabotaging yourself. You thought it was romantic because you’ve heard about it, read about it; therefore every time you don’t feel that special something you said to yourself, “I can’t do it.” You argued that the muse is gone, not realizing that the muse is a bitch, a crutch, an alibi you’ve created so you don’t have to dig deep.

For us, writing has always been a way of dealing with things—both inside and around us. It is an exercise that forces us to silence the world and listen to ourselves. It is a way to get a message across, to avoid the convenience of cliches, to forsake the delicate climate of our egos and surrender to the meaning of the storm. It is work because we are always under construction; we are always works in progress.

But that doesn’t mean it can’t be simple. That doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. Realize that you are marching towards oblivion to meet the ghosts of the past and the demons of the future. On your way, you will befriend some and bury some. You might as well slap a smile on you’re face because it’s a long way to go and you’ve got a lot of work to do.

Stephen King

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4 comments

  1. I can definitely relate to that! The weirdest thing for me is that my “muse” seems to be at its best when my time to write is the most limited. Thanks for your post–it’s good to feel like I’ve got company in my writing woes. 🙂

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