Oct 23, 2008

This week: writer's block and some books.

I've been trying to write. Writers write. Duh.

But the only time I seem to come up with a nice set of words, or a plot line that won't leave my head, I'm either putting little effort in my setting analysis paper, or nodding and smiling at my job. I feel like this -->

School aside, my main problem is that even when I sit down (like now. I could have written the intro to a short by now), the words just stop. I don't know if anyone has this same problem, but it's been getting under my skin since the beginning of October.

Usually I'd turn to my favorite book, Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, but I shared the writerly love and gave it to another writer, and can't seem to find my back-up copy (yes, I had a back-up copy). There was a bit in this book that talked about how to get the words down when you're stuck, clogged, burnt, and have all sorts of mental constipation. I can't force anything. Right now this is easy. Blogging is not some art form to me (though it is to others). It is more like writing in a journal. A journal which may or may not be being read by people I know and some number of strangers, but still.

Anyway, there's this part of Bird by Bird. I'm pretty certain it is on the back cover also. This is where Anne Lamott explains her writing process, as well as the title for the book. She says (paraphrasing) that the night before it was due, her brother started his science project on different species of birds. I'm guessing since it was the day before the due date, there must have been mad birds on his list. With all these pictures and classifications, her father (also a writer), sits down and helps her bro put them together. He goes something along the lines of, "Okay now. Take it bird by bird." One at a time. Uno por uno. Etc. This becomes her mantra for her writing life, and I've tried to make it mine for the past five years with some success, except for whatever I've been doing wrong for the past few months.

It's hard. Writing is really, really hard. And having the desire to write and not letting myself is incredibly whiney of me because I should just sit down and do it.

Instead I'm blogging, and leaving you with another one of my favorite writer-Band-Aid-books:


I can burn all hokey Writer's Digest books about the "process" of writing and keep only this one. It's like having a teacher give you a prompt every day without actually having to go to class. The prompts come in three different ways: a plot line, a situation affecting different characters, and a clip of dialogue. I'm flipping to a random page. Write this:

"I can't believe you've taken up jogging. What about out pact?" -pg 106

Wait, here's another one (since I end up flipping the book a few times randomly and then picking one. It is nice to have a writer's block ritual) :

A botanist proves that plants feel pain and exhibit conscious thought. -pg 37

I'm so excited like,
Zoraida