Writer Unblocked

by Pari

Shhh. Come in close. I don’t want anyone else to hear. Yeah, I know my breath tickles . . .

Okay, here it is. I’ve found the literary Fountain of Youth, the equivalent of the Seven Cities of Gold. It’s been a long search, nearly fifty years of sacrifice, difficulties galore. Privation times two. But it was worth it. So what if I couldn’t afford food for awhile? I know how to live off the land. And I can tell you, when the Water Authority cuts you off, honeysuckle nectar is a fine substitute.

But that’s a different story . . .

This is the biggie, the jackpot.

Hey, maybe I should write a book about it. I know it’d go to auction. Sell for, like, a million bucks. I’ve always wanted a yacht. Nothing fancy, a couple hundred feet. I’d go to Tahiti, see if I could scare up an original Gaugin or two. You never know what you can find at those little markets. But I digress . . .

The secret. Here it comes, the key to never having writer’s block again.

Are you ready?

It’s . . . it’s . . . oh, hell, I forgot!

Just kidding.

It’s all in two words. "Look and do." Okay, that’s three, but you know what I mean. You don’t? Do I really need to spell it out for you? Okay.

You can find inspiration in the most ordinary things.
    Take this morning. One of my kids walked into the office while I was staring at the computer and biting a hangnail.
    She tossed a set of keys on the desk. "What are these for?"
    "Hell if I know."
    "What should I do with them?"
    Bingo! I had the beginning of a short story about safety deposit boxes, or a poem about smelting metal, or an essay about closed doors and open hearts. I could write a novel about a group of kids who go to this magical school and find this enchanted bunch of keys. It could be the next Harry Potter. Hey, Oprah might call!

Um, sorry.

There’s not much to say about it. I’ve always found "and" to be useful.

The trick is to actually take the stuff in your head and get it down on paper.
    I don’t care how you do it. Tappity tap on the keyboard. Or use a tape recorder. Or hire one of those people that sounds like that club for brainiacs — a menses? No, Mensa. That’s not right either. You know, an amanuensis. Yeah, that’s it.

Well, maybe there’s one more word:

NO! Don’t stop writing!
    Just stop that editor in your head that freezes your brain and makes you scared to put sentences together because they might all sound like a fifth-grader’s paper about the water cycle.
    You see, when you’re trying to get your ideas down in the first place, you’ve got to go for the gusto, reach for the stars, make your dreams come true — even if every other phrase is cliche. Who cares? We’re not talking about editor’s block here.

So, that’s it. I’ve blessed you with solid gold. Diamonds. Gas at $.25/gal.

Just do me a favor. If Oprah calls, give her my number too.

9 thoughts on “Writer Unblocked

  1. JT Ellison

    Pari, absolutely wonderful, perfect, tremendous advice.

    This is why I always encourage new writers to participate in NaNoWriMo — National Novel Writing Month. If you can learn to let go of your inner editor, to write like the wind and not worry about the consequences, and you can accept that things might not be perfect from the get go, you can become a professional writer.

    Thanks for showing us the way!

  2. Pari Noskin Taichert

    J.T.,Yeah, “write like the wind.” That’s pretty much how I did this blog — at least on one level.

    I’d been knocking myself upside the head because of all the editing I’m doing right now — slashing and burning hard-wrought pages — in order to tighten my manuscript.

    So, I wanted to do a completely different post, to shove myself past seriousness for a moment.

    I think the narrator of this piece is a little unreliable but I like the voice; it’s not me, it’s someone far more manic 😉

  3. Tammy Cravit

    Great post, Pari! Thanks for posting it!

    To JT’s comment, I’d add that doing a little freelancing for a local newspaper is another great way to train that inner editor about when you want to hear from her, and when she needs to sit down, shut up and let you get some work done. When you’re five minutes from deadline and your editor is leaning over your shoulder screaming, you quickly learn that writer’s block is a luxury you can’t afford, and you learn how to move past it.

    The first newspaper editor I ever worked with professionally, a kindly but decidedly grizzled and curmudgeonly sort named Russ, taught me that lesson in spades. “This isn’t ‘War and Peace’,” he lectured once as deadline approached. “You’re writing ten column inches for page five, and ‘good enough’ is good enough!” He’s gone now, and I fear the newspaper industry is headed for a like fate, and I wonder where the writers of the future will learn that lesson.

  4. Pari Noskin Taichert

    Tammy,Great example with that editor. Wonderful. That’s what *I* needed to hear today. I’ve already killed about eight pages of truly good prose because my book started in the wrong place. Argh!

    Did you get that the post was supposed to be funny? (With large kernels of truth, of course)

    I’m worried that people didn’t pick up on that . . .

  5. Tammy Cravit

    Pari, I can’t speak for anyone else, but *I* got the humor. Of course, the Court Jester was often the only member of the king’s court who could speak the truth with impunity, so there you go. Pari Noskin Taichert, novelist and harlequin… 🙂

    As for starting in the wrong place, I can offer only the observation that sometimes the wrong place is the vantage point that makes the right place clear; sometimes you can’t find the right place unless you look at things from the wrong place. As they say, a map doesn’t help you figure out where to go until you know where you *are*…

  6. Pari Noskin Taichert

    O, Sage One, Tammy.

    No kidding.

    I always seem to start in the wrong place, struggle for weeks or months trying to get those first few chapters right and then dump them.

    You’d think after writing six manuscripts (three published, two never will be and one that I hope with good editing will be the beginning of a new series) that I’d finally GET it.

  7. Tammy Cravit

    Pari, I just posted on this topic over at my blog (www.actsofmalice.com), but I look at it this way: When Thomas Edison was asked whether the countless experiments that led to the invention of the incandescent bulb were wasted, he reported answered, “Not at all. Now, I definitely know more than a thousand ways how NOT to make a light bulb.”

    So it goes with writing as well.


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