Monday, September 15, 2003

Writer's Block



I've always said that I don't believe in writer's block. You just need to sit your ass down and start putting one word after another. It's just like laying bricks. One by one -- you've got a sentence, a paragraph, a page. And before you know it, you've written the Great American Novel. Simple. No magic. No heavenly inspiration. No angst. No excuses.

So why haven't I written anything for the past six months? I had an idea for a screenplay that really had me going. I wrote an outline and even the first few scenes. Then I kind of got distracted. A little while later, I had another idea for a short movie. Figured out the basic premise and the overall theme of the piece. Knew where the jokes would go. Never quite got around to writing it. A few weeks ago, I heard about a contest for a one-hour television pilot. Came up with some characters, basic plot, cool title and the opening scene... Nothing.

So what's the deal, has the well run dry? Have I lost the spark? Is the honeymoon over? Do I rely too heavily on cliches? Or could it be the dreaded Writer's Block?

Writer's Block. The very words invoke a tomblike sense of finality. They conjure up images of a vast murky abyss that echoes with the stillness of eternity and reeks of the foul funk of two day old Chinese food. Even to acknowledge its existence brings you another treacherous step closer the brink. And once you fall into that abyss, you may never claw your way out. It feeds on your fear, expanding with each excuse, widening with every self-pitying whine. Its walls become sheer cliffs of ice where neither hand nor foot can find purchase. The very sky is made dim by the smoky shadow that looms like a shroud over its vast expanse. It envelopes and overwhelms, suffocates and consumes, leaving you numb and hollow, gasping for inspiration and praying for redemption.

But it never comes. You've given in. Now your at its mercy. And it wants your soul.

You struggle. You think you still have a chance. Flailing about wildly you reach out for anything that might serve to empower you. Blackness overtakes you and the roar of oblivion thunders in your ears. You scratch at the last tatters of vanishing reason...

And then, you feel something. Something solid. Something real. A book.

Your trembling fingers fumble with the cover. Blurry shapes slowly take form. A word. A sentence. A paragraph. A page. You read on. Half-formed thoughts wink like fireflies in the gloom. A light appears in the distance. An idea. Magic. Inspiration.

A world is created from nothing. People are born, live and die in a universe cradled in your hands. A lifetime's experience is captured in walls of imagination. A story becomes real.

So, I have a new project to work on. I'm not sure if I'll finish it. Right now it's just an idea. But as long as the ideas keep coming, that's enough for me.

Thanks for helping me through my writer's block.

Rich

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