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It is interesting to read about writer’s block! What is it? You either have something to say, so you say it, or you have nothing and you keep quiet till you do have something to say. But writer’s block implies that you do have something to say and cannot. In that case, then you very simply, are not a writer.
I just read a long article about this very subject and was quite puzzled by the long-winded attempt at finding solutions to this problem. What problem? I really cannot understand.
The only thing I understand is that I cannot force myself to ‘write’ if I don’t have something I simply cannot keep quiet about. If I force myself to write about something because I am required to do so, or because I feel I ‘should’ then the whole thing is forced and absolutely artificial. Something has to either challenge me, move me or tickle my sense of humor to make me want to write. Like this article about writer’s block provoking me into writing this article.
Just lately, and as part of my forced therapy, in trying to accelerate my recovery after the difficult time I went through lately, I took a ‘Writer’s Cruise’ up the Nile from Luxor to Aswan. I thought that would be a good opportunity to push myself out of my comfort zone, and at the same time give me an opportunity to meet some new people, as well as give me pointers about writing, though I have been doing that for a few months now, and seem to be doing fairly well, as per the response of my readers. Though I did have some reservations about the outcome of this course, fearing that I would be totally out of my depth as this was a completely new experience for me.
The first session was a bit difficult. Most of the participants were repeat students who had previously had courses in writing with this instructor, some knew each other either personally or had met during previous sessions, but most were familiar with the rhythm of the course. All this I had to take in on that first day. Added to it was my nervousness at feeling out of my depth, that I am really just a fraud, I only write about my personal experiences, so how could I masquerade as a writer of fiction?!
Thirty minutes into the first session and I was set to go with the flow. I forgot all about me and I dived into the course itself. I drank in all the information, and there was a great deal of that. It was interesting to dissect the different writing techniques, to get pointers about the ‘tricks of the trade’ so to speak, though this was never put in such inelegant language. There was great emphasis on the use of language, many pointers about how to invent interesting words and to use others unconventionally so as to produce a piece of prose nearer to poetry than otherwise.
There were times when our efforts were so convoluted to try to apply all the lessons learnt in one short paragraph, that more often than not they sorely tried my self control. Added to that the sometimes incomprehensible pronunciation of some of the words used, I came to highly respect the instructor and her ability to give constructive criticism to what to me was mostly incomprehensible. The language imposed by the course left me feeling rather pragmatic and as dull as mud in my style. I had no gift in the flowery and lyrical. Whenever I started in that trend I found myself either giggling or turning sarcastic. I simply couldn’t write this way. But I was there for exactly that reason, to see if I could use a different style.
To my ear, whenever we had an assignment in class that we were required to read, I always felt that they all did much better than I in applying all they were taught. I found that with me, if I was really interested in what I was writing, I turned to my own style and the piece would just flow. But when I was not interested, then the piece I wrote was a disaster in the making: stiff, stilted prose, forced to be flowery and ‘lyrical’ like dressing a broomstick in bridal clothes. Totally incongruous. And quite painful to my own ears, and somewhat embarrassing.
But I did learn. I found out that the best style to use in writing is your own. I will probably, eventually, unconsciously use some of the pointers given during that course, when they sink in deeply enough to come back naturally and comfortably. To me, the creative process is quite a mystery. I do not consciously search for words, I do not deliberately use a thesaurus to try to fit the exact word then use many of its synonyms to say the same thing over and over again cleverly, I simply just write. The words just pour out. Maybe that is what I should do with editing, but quite frankly that is something I rarely do. I send my articles to my best friend who reads them, points out my typos, makes suggestions about punctuation, and sometimes bluntly asks me what I meant by some sentences. When this happens I read that part and try to put it a bit more clearly. But that is as far as my ‘editing’ goes. I do not ‘tighten’ my prose, I don’t ‘make every word count’ I simply blather on. And somehow it seems to work! This, to my constant surprise.
Every time I write an article I wait for my friend’s response as I am never really sure if this time I have really gone overboard and put my readers into a catatonic state with my verbal diarrhea. When she comes back to me with the few changes and the green light, I am so relieved, and just want to get rid of it as quickly as possible by putting it out there where it cannot be recalled. It is over and done with.
If this is the creative process that every writer goes through, then it is a bundle of contrasting, conflicting feelings and emotions. If I have something I need to say, I cannot help writing about it. It is a compulsive disorder of some kind where the only cure is to write it out. Once done I just simply want to forget about it, never see it again. But I have to, at least once more, before publishing. Then I try to put it out of my mind completely. Something like OCD maybe, but to do with writing. Maybe OCW Obsessive, Compulsive Writing! I hate acronyms. The day I stop my brain blathering is the day I guess I will be suffering from writer’s block. Up till then I shall just continue in this vein, and may God have mercy upon your souls.
23 May 2014

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