Yes. Give up. You are a writer and you are blocked; not from a former facebook friend, not from a person you maybe called too much, not because of that hunk of Smoked Gouda you ate late last night when you felt bummed and thought no one was looking. You are blocked in the head, albeit not as violently as receiving a block to the head but if you don’t relieve the pressure soon from not being able to do that thing you used to do so much more easily than sneaking cheese at one in the morning you are going to explode and hopefully no one will be around to see that lest they get spattered in characters and dialogue, motif and theme. Eww, gross! Who got characterization all over me?
Take a breath and hold it.
Feel like you’re about to pass out?
Now you’re only thinking about one thing. Survival. When is this guy gonna say, “Simon says, breath.”?
Did you see that?
I see you’re nodding those blue cheeks. Yep, I wrote “breath”.
I’ll wait while you catch your breath.
See, I was able to write a misspelled word, a minor editorial infraction committed, yet full of dire consequences in the context of this exercise. Simon didn’t say, “breathe,” and you went on struggling to stay conscious while also acutely aware of my little scribbler’s crime. Ooooh, a misspelled word. How could he go on?
That’s the source of your writer’s block. You’ve probably written some amazing work in your time. Most likely you’ve got even more amazing work yet to come. But, even in the face of losing consciousness you couldn’t overlook a minor mistake. And you cannot drive through a first draft with that kind of shit on your mind. You paralyze any start you may have made wondering how much work is going to be left down the road in the wake of the big bang of any first draft.
There’s one more thing you need to see. Grab the magnifying glass, some latex gloves, and follow me to the mass spectrometer.
Ahh, here. See that?
Cheetos and hummus. Don’t look away.
Extra foam lemon caramel latte with a nutmeg dusting? Are you kidding me? You can’t be blocked to come up with something that creative.
You’ve been celebrating, haven’t you? Yes, that paragraph you wrote last fall about Zip-line builders on the helium loaded satellite NASA built as a last ditch revenue stream who became seduced by the whistle-pigs stampeding on the unlit half of the lunar surface then devised a reckless plan to zip line to the dark sty of the moon was a really transcendent moment in the history of your work.
You’ve been celebrating much too long. Don’t do that. Don’t do it when you win contributor’s copies and don’t do it when you hit the lottery and sell 100,000 of those little books you’ve been working on.
Remember not being able to breathe? One day that will be for real. One day you won’t be able to celebrate the success ad naseum. Get back to work as soon as you can.
Every word counts.
You’ve done it before. Do it again. And again.
One letter follows another follows another. Worry about the corrections when you have something to correct. A novel. Rough as it may be. Sit down and shut up about what’s not the work. Work. There’ll be time to instagram your breakfast in the nursing home.
…unless you’re still writing.
Get to work.