Monday, September 1, 2008


I taught creative writing for three years. (OK, so the last year I totally phoned it in. For those of you who were in that class, sorry about that. Let's call it two and a half.) I taught a few methods to fight writer's block. One of them being, of course, that it really doesn't exist. So I should know how to deal with it.

For the past year now, I've pulled out a pad of paper, opened Word in my computer, or started notepad in my Blackberry probably 50 or more times. Yeah, it's every few days, once a week or more. Nothing comes out.

I even found something that I typed up almost 10 years ago that was an outline to a novel type idea. I really liked it. It dealt with cults, time travel, and supernatural beings. I have three or four other full-length ideas, and a few more that would make nice short stories. Still, nothing comes out.

While I drove around this summer (all together, I topped 5000 miles easily), I thought of new ideas. Even new scenes. Some things that would be kinda cool to write, even if they don't even turn into a short story. Still, nothing comes out.

I think that just about the only times that I get out more than a sentence or two is when I blog (and you see how often that is) or when I'm creating some sort of lesson plan.

About a month ago, I had a dream (not just that once. I've had many, many dreams. But the dream starts this point). Some of you might have experienced this: I woke up and realized that it would make a totally cool story, so I wanted to get back to sleep to continue the dream. I hit snooze, and drifted back near the point of being asleep, snoozed again, drifted, and continued until the dream was a long distant thought. I barely had the slightest hint of what it was out after a few snooze shots. So I placed a notepad and a pen by my bed so that I could write down ideas when I woke up. It's still blank.

I do remember last night's dream. Well, the basic idea, at least. I was living in a world where people had super powers; a Marvel or DC type of universe. I wasn't me. I was a character living in this world. And I, too, had a power. I had to power to know when people received mail that they didn't want. I'll wait here a second while you reread that. That was my super creative inner mind at work. Oh, I didn't just know when people received mail with bad news. Not just bills, either. I knew when they received mail that was addressed to a previous occupant about something irrelevant to the current occupant. I knew when they received junk mail. Yep, that's what I dreamed. I do remember that email started to become part of the dream, but it was more of a question mark and less of an absolute.

I wonder if that dream is why I can't write anything. Because I have lame dreams. Actually, I think there might be a short story in there somewhere. What if in this place, people have all sorts of random powers but they just can't use them? How about the power to know when a TV show named "Shark Fighters" is on TV, but the show doesn't exist? That person would never even know about that power. By the way, "Shark Fighters" might also make a good story. Maybe I'll try that one, too. These days, I'd be pretty happy with anything longer than a sentence.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Whoa, I don't know about writer's block, but your webcraft isn't blocked (referring to your new blog look).

I tried to get Lance to talk about how he was overcoming writer’s stagnation lately...but he didn’t write back. I couldn’t tell if that was an intentional joke or not. I’ve been wanting to, but haven’t been, writing lately. The reason that I had my last spurt was because I forced myself to do it on a regular schedule under the assumption that it was all going to come out as junk but that I’d write so much that in time it wouldn’t matter if only one out of a hundred were good. But after a while, the mind tricks/motivation weren’t necessary when the schedule/routine took hold. From what I’ve read, a lot of successful creative people talk about the importance of making the work a habit. Now if only I could get myself into the habit again...

-The Jakes