The Opposite of Writer’s BlockPosted: June 3, 2010
One of the biggest complaints that I hear from writers is that they struggle with writer’s block. We’ve all experienced the phenomena from time to time, where the words just won’t come, or the ideas on what to write about just don’t flow through and the brain seems to be a total blank. There are many articles with helpful suggestions on how to get over writer’s block and get the words flowing once more, from free association, freestyle writing of whatever comes to mind, to exercise and experiencing nature.
My current problem, however, is the opposite of writer’s block. I don’t know what you would call it; maybe writer’s overflow. I have more ideas on what to write coming out of my brain than there are hours in the day to write them all. Perhaps if I could just sit down and do nothing but write, there would be a chance of getting them all out, (but even then, some would probably be lost as I worked to get others just the way I wanted them), but the fact is, I don’t know anyone who can do nothing but write. We all have lives and things that need to be tended to in those lives, and besides, even if we claim that writing is our life, I imagine that if it was all we ever did, we would get tired of it. It is possible to get too much of even the best of things in life.
The answer, of course, is to prioritize. Get the important things out of the way first and then fall back on the activities, such as writing, that are what we truly wish to be doing, but how do you keep all those great ideas from flowing out and being lost, when there is no paper available at the moment for them to flow to? Oh, I have heard suggestions on how to tackle this problem, though they are not as frequent as the writer’s block solution. Many say carry a pad of paper and pen with you everywhere you go, so you can write those ideas down as soon as they strike you, but I see problems with this strategy. First, is it really practical to carry pen and paper everywhere you go? Personally, I carry so much other necessary junk with me: cell phone; keys; wallet; and those blasted cancer sticks that my body insists upon even though my mind says that I should leave them home, that carrying pen and paper would be just two more items for me to have to remember and try not to misplace. Second, if you are walking along and an idea strikes you, do you just stop in mid-stride and write it down right there on the street? What if you happen to be crossing the street? Do you just stop traffic and hope not to be run down because you have an idea that just won’t wait. I think that if we drop everything, every time that we get an idea, we wouldn’t ever get anything else done. And third, have you ever jotted those ideas down while they were fresh, only to return to that same piece of paper later to find that the idea has gone cold, or what you wrote to remind you of what you were thinking at the time now makes you think, “Huh?” It happens. I have tried this method in the past. It’s like jotting down a phone number so you won’t forget it, but forgetting to attach a name. When you look at it later, you have no idea who’s phone number it is or why it was important enough that you felt you needed to remember it.
Maybe the answer is that the ideas that are lost weren’t that good anyway. I have to admit that there have been occasions when I raced home to write down an idea that struck me, only to discover when I begin to develop it, that it is really going nowhere. Over the recent past, I have had several setbacks in my life, that have made things seem to be not so good right now, but all my friends with good intentions keep telling me that everything happens for a reason, even if I can’t see what that reason is at the moment. So, maybe the idea overflow that gets lost in shuffle of my busy life, acts as a filter that filters out all the ideas that really aren’t that great to make room for the ones that are.
I would really like for this to be an interactive blog, so don’t be shy. Leave a comment. What do you think? Do you have writer’s block or writer’s overflow? How do you deal with it?