Writer’s Block

Today marked the end of a weeklong writing intensive. Aptly named, it felt intense. Excellent instructor, great writers, powerful stories, heaps of information.

I discovered I’m able to generate very little work while taking in so much. Those early morning hours when I typically write were spent wrangling the toddler and getting us out the door. When I confessed my lack of output this week to a few of the other writers, they were generous to me. “But you have a two-year old!” they said.

This morning I gave up completely. Instead of working on the characterization assignment, I baked blueberry muffins for the class. Because here’s the thing about toddlers: they don’t mind if you cook or load a dishwasher or run a vacuum. But park your ass in a chair and attempt to focus, and they will climb you like a ladder. They will need one, two, three pieces of cheese. Slip on the tambourine they tried to wear as a shoe. Poop their diaper. You will get up no less than fifteen times over the course of a half hour and find yourself with maybe five sentences. But you persist. Because those sentences count.

So when I’m at the library at night staring at the screen, thinking, “What’s my angle? What’s my insight?” and can’t seem to construct one good sentence, I feel frustrated. Desperate even. I want to write like Kathy Fish. Lydia Yuknavitch. Robin Black. I read a May Sarton poem. I remember Jim Shepard says, “Follow your weird.”

But I keep writing about the same things in the same way.

When I buried the woodchuck two nights ago, every time I dug into the dirt, I hit rock. Again and again and again.

Maybe writing about writer’s block is the trick to breaking through.

(Post 178 of 365)





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