Writers talk a lot about writer’s block. They post about it, tweet about it, cry about it. To be honest, I don’t know what writer’s block is. Am I sometimes unable to find words? Sure, but I don’t know if I should dignify my inability to get words down on paper as writer’s block.
After all, I don’t write fiction, a genre that seems to spawn many a case of writer’s block, but I can certainly understand how such an affliction can happen to the fiction/creative author. I can only imagine the struggle to find a plot, create characters, give them a voice, but considering I write nonfiction, what’s my excuse, really?
For those who write memoir, there is no plot, only life, my life quite specifically and sometimes the lives of those close to me. So I wonder, chastise myself even, “What is the problem? Get the words on paper, woman!” but with memoir or creative nonfiction, it’s not a matter of not having anything to say. It’s all there. All my stories. All my truths, but the words are a jumble and won’t come out in intelligible sentences. It’s like having a cloud above my head, swirling words I try to grasp that are always just slightly out of reach.
Perhaps my definition of writer’s block just happens to be a bit different. Perhaps there should be two separate entities, “writer’s block” for fiction writers and “wordlessness” for creative nonfictions writers.
For that’s me right now.
So how to find the words? Reading the work of authors I love and admire helps. We’ve all heard that advice time over, if you don’t read, you won’t be able to write, but other things get in my way too as is the case right now like life. Life gets in the way, blocking my truths, holding me back as I reach for words.
Here are some triggers that render me wordless:
- Stress, stress, stress
- Noise e.g., loud talking or yelling, beeping horns or other strident noises
- Money worries
- Lack of time
- Demands of my paying job
- Concern over a loved one who is ill
These things are just a few that keep me wordless, that shut down my brain because when any of these things happen, my writer persona gets trapped up there, tripping, stumbling, entangled in brain matter.
So as I search for my words, I leave you with these:
“Do not worry. You have always written before and you will write now. All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence you know.”
― Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast