Thursday, September 10, 2009

Writing is Easy...

By Beth Terrell

Gene Fowler once said, "Writing is easy. Just stare at a blank piece of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead." Or how about Ben Hecht's, "Writing is easy. Just open a vein." We've talked a lot about how much fun writing is (and it is!). None of us seems to have too much trouble with writer's block. I have a dear friend, a brilliant writer, who has been unable to write creatively for years. I've been fortunate that, when I do get stuck, I can usually find a way through it pretty easily. I write fiction, which is a joy to me; if I wrote two books a year and never had another new idea, I would still be writing for the next fifty years. I sometimes get busy; I sometimes have to find my way through a section that isn't working; but I don't get blocked.

But this week, I've had a very specific type of writer's block: Blogger's Block. I'm sure I'm not the only one who has it, since when I thought I'd coined the name and Googled it, I got 44,000 hits. That's a lot of blockage.

Take yesterday for example. I spent much of the day coming up with and discarding ideas. At 8:00, I sat down in front of my computer fully intending to write my blog post a day ahead of time. At 11:30, when I had to go to bed because I had to get up and travel, I still had a blank title box and "By Beth Terrell" in the composition box. Not an auspicious beginning. Not a single idea had been able to gasp past the finish line.

Today, I my mom, brother, and I drove from Nashville to a little town just north of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania (we'll finish the last leg of our trip tomorrow). We checked into a Country Hearth Inn & Suites and ate at a nearby Italian restaurant (crab manicotti!). Then I came back to the room and pulled up the composition box again. No title. "By Beth Terrell." Bleh.

Took a shower while mom checked her email. Checked my own email and responded to the ones that couldn't wait. Made a couple of false starts on the blog entry and couldn't for the life of me think of anything to write that anybody would particularly want to read about. Checked email again and found a link from my sister-in-law to a video of a group of people at Dragoncon (a fantasy and sf convention) trying to break the world's record for the number of people dancing to Michael Jackson's "Thriller" in one place. The previous record was a 242 by students at William and Mary. Dragoncon had 902. Now this, I could not resist.

If you're the least bit curious to see zombies, Klingons, a man dressed as a giant silver glove, sort of tentacled creature with eyestalks, and a host of other costumed and plainclothes folks dancing in semi-unison to Michael Jackson's "Thriller," you can see it here: http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid1345089824?bctid=37858935001.

I came back to the composition page refreshed and a great deal more amused. Made a couple more false starts. Chuckled about the Dragoncon dancers. Called my husband and complained that I couldn't think of anything to write that anybody would want to read. Apparently, I'm in a funk. He said it didn't matter. Write anything. Just write something.

This is the something, and the point of it is, my husband is a wise man. I often meet writers who say they would love to write if...They would write if only...They have this great idea, but...How do I start? What do I do? What if a publisher won't buy it? What if no one reads it?

The answer is always the same. Just write something.

6 comments:

Mark W. Danielson said...

I totally agree, Beth. If you don't start something, you're certain to never finish it.

Jean Henry Mead said...

Good advice, Beth. I'm an insomniac who can't think of anything until noon, which is probably why you see so many of my interviews on this blog. :)

Beth Terrell said...

Jean, I love your interviews, so Keep 'em coming.

Terry B said...

What spurs me to write, at least some of the time, is that I express an opinion on a blog or chat site somewhere out there in cyberspace, only to be pounced on by a lot of flaming naysayers. So I have to do the research, and perhaps even engage in some revisionism, after which I post my results as an essay on my blog. This is one reason why I call myself a "recovering Civil War addict." I've already had two good Civil War ideas for novels, but probably won't write either one because of all the heavy duty research and bad karma that comes through putting myself into that horrible tragedy. Selling JDR's picture may be the first step on my road to recovery.

Mark W. Danielson said...

Terry, I once thought about writing a Civil War novel, too, but gave up after realizing no matter how many books I read on the subject, I'd never completely understand it. Perhaps you'd be better off writing about something less controversial -- like JFK's assasination . . .

Terry B said...

Mark, those are true words of wisdom. My first idea was a "what if?" Nobody fires on Fort Sumter, so how long can the situation continue to deteriorate before some gang of bushwhackers somewhere creates the incident that starts the war? My protagonist would be an intelligence agent charged with preventing that. He gets no real help from the Confederate government because they really do want a war, so he's on his own. Assemble an A Team and do your best to put out the fires. Nefarious people on the other side are similarly tasked.