In my last blog I talked about how I have been dealing with self hate and how that is something that is addressed in Victoria Nelson’s Book Writer’s Block and how to use it. Well there are a few other things that are addressed in the first chapter that in some ways I felt like I hit a veritable gold mine so to speak. In all the first chapter really spoke to me. As I said Victoria Nelson addressed that writer’s block can be a form of self preservation against your scathing inner critic but that is of course not the only form writer’s block can take.
When I first reading the chapter I hadn’t hit a point of self hate when it came to my writing but I discovered an issue with myself and my writing that was outlined in the book, which is taking yourself too seriously. I’m not talking about the whole idea of “I’m a writer and I’m going to sit down and write because that is what I am and that is my job” but more of looking and expecting too much of yourself as you write.
In a lot of ways your creative energies, your creative self is a lot like a child – I know in some ways it seems crazy but if you think about it, it makes sense. What is writing? Why do we do it? It’s a form of play. It is a way to enjoy things in life. I know for me the start of my writing career as it were was born out of play. I was always filled with ideas and thoughts and stories and a lot of those came out in my play, my Barbies would act out epic stories and tales, I would run around pretending to be a whole other person dressing up when I could, creating great worlds of adventure for myself and even pulling my friends into it where we would create and play out stories together. Then the spark hit me of if my friends and I have fun with and enjoy these stories surely others will too. That’s when I wanted to start sharing my stories but really it was all rooted in play.
Now as an adult, I have permission to still be a kid and pretend that odd little sounds things that happen to life isn’t a neighborhood cat or a bug but rather a fairy in hiding, or that the dark night outside hide lurking werewolves and other interesting creatures, because it is all what if’s for a potential novel. Writing is play, you create a world for characters and beings to live and grow and develop and you draw out things that will happen to them along the way.
With that in mind as a professional writer (published or not if your aim is publication you are a professional) we many times get caught up in the need to write and the push to make something wonderful. We want to make and half that next great novel many times yet the creative child in us doesn’t want to be all serious and worry if the i’s are dotted and the t’s are crossed the creative child wants freedom to create. So as Victoria Nelson puts it our ego which is what makes want to have that next great novel many times gets in the way and tries to force our creative nature to sit down work hard and go to Harvard when the creative child frowns at the idea of Harvard level work and just wants to take the crayons and color outside the line. When we are faced with this situation of ego versus creativity a block can happen. Thus as Victoria puts it, we have to give ourselves permission to play.
When I read that I realized that maybe it goes further than just permission to play in the sense of allowing my story to flow and not worrying about continuity so much in the first draft but also to allow my inner child the option play and not right. I was constantly finding myself wanting to play a video game but I kept telling myself no, I need to sit and write and I’d make myself sit there and I’d barely get anything done. Once I allowed myself a few days to play games and not write I found that writing has come easier. Some times our creative natures need a break and a chance to just play and not work. So I allow myself time for true play beyond writing if I want it rather than buckling down and going “I have to write” and I’ve found that the writing comes a whole lot easier.
Though there is more to Victoria’s book that I have yet to read at this point I think a good portion of writer’s block is looking inwardly instead of outwardly like a lot of writer’s block advise columns say and see what is going on in your heart when it comes to that little creative nature. As for me and my creativity we’re off to have some fun and hopefully a bit of writing later on!