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Archive for the ‘Writer’s block’ Category

People obsessed with safety tell us that distracted driving is a bad idea. To me, the bigger concern is all the people who drive while stupid, but life is risky, ultimately a terminal illness, so I can’t get too excited about this. As a writer, though, I am interested in the question of distracted writing.

I recall reading a while ago a story of how Victor Hugo stripped naked, gave his clothes to a servant, and went to his tub to write. The servant had orders to return the clothes when Hugo had written a thousand words or a chapter or something like. That’s a cute story, but I don’t have a servant, and I’d object to someone telling me what to do, anyway.

When I write, I have music on. Westerns get Irish folk music, a band called Great Big Sea, or country. (You can read examples of my westerns here and buy one here.) I write science fiction while rock or classical. (More on that subject here.) When I try my hand at poetry, I can’t listen to music with lyrics, but otherwise, someone singing is fine.

But music isn’t enough. This is because of the crushing onus of white space. White space demands that the writer fill it. It also creates an expectation of creating Good Writing (TM). This causes writer’s freeze, if not outright block. I have two solutions:

1. Every writer ought to have a cat. Felines provide helpful distraction. When that white space is being particularly oppressive, the cat will jump into the writer’s lap and insist on being petted. In the process, words will shake free in the writer’s brain.

2. Twitter does the same thing. The announcement that I have a whole new batch of tweets to read gives me a moment of irrelevance. Then I can go back to filling that white space.

Perhaps this reveals me to be a sufferer of, um, SQUIRREL!

If you feel the need for your own distraction, you may follow me @GregCampNC.

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Yesterday (12 June 2012), I finally finished a short story that I’d been asked to write. I started it last August, and the dratted thing has been plaguing me ever since. I can’t account for the difficulty in writing it. The main character, Henry Dowland, is someone I know well. He’s been the hero of two other short stories and a novel that I’m working on getting published. I even had an outline for the story. But the words didn’t want to come.

What did I do? I kept typing. Even if I only added a few words in a day, I kept typing. Now it’s finished. And it works.

Lessons to be learned:

1. Even if you have to cuss up a blue streak, write the damned thing. Even if only five words get added after hours of work, write the damned thing.

2. How you feel about the story doesn’t matter. You may hate it. That’s not the story’s problem, and really none of the story’s business. The story deserves to be finished.

3. Excuses don’t get the writing done.

The good news is that I’m moving on to the next piece. Of course, now I have a new blank screen. . . .

Keep writing.

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