Wednesday, February 27, 2013

A Writer, Tired.

One of the hardest things about being a writer is the inevitable times when your body shows up, but your brain is conspicuously absent from the process. That's right... it's commonly known as "Writers Block", but I for one abhor that term. I think a better one is "writer's standby mode".

Right now, as I write these words, my brain feels like it's just knee deep in mud. It's not a pleasant feeling, but here I am writing a few hundred words for you to read anyway.

You're welcome.

The reason that I can do this, flying in the face of writing advice books, psychological studies, and common sense is that I have trained my brain to write on command. Developing a writing habit isn't hard to do, and it's kind of like the experiment with Pavlov and his dogs. You get your brain to respond to certain stimuli, and it will know that when it receives that particular stimuli, it's time to quit bitching about fatigue, stress, money, or whatever, and start writing. My stimuli is a dose of caffeine, chocolate, and crappy acoustic music that my local coffee shop plays in what I assume is an effort to get people to free up tables. Still, just showing up doesn't give me a topic to write about when the brain isn't cooperating, and that's where the whole "Writer's Standby" Thing comes in.

Something almost any writer that does it on a regular basis will tell you is that real writers never really stop writing. A significant portion of our brain is at all times jotting stuff down on our mental notepad that will at some point be used in a story.  We are always coming up with neat ideas for essays, stories, characters, and scenes based on the events of our daily lives. That old adage "Write what you know"? This is what it means. Just because I've never lived on a spaceship doesn't mean I've never been in an almost completely artificial, enclosed environment. On a typical walk through the local Mall, I often think that in many ways the first sustainable Mars colonies will probably be a lot like the Mall, with recycled air, artificial lighting, and shops all contained under a glass atrium to prevent claustrophobia.

Silly? Perhaps. But you can bet that a shopping mall like space colony will eventually find its way into one of my stories. Then there are the random experiences and thoughts that are awesome, but will probably never find their way into one of my works. It's not that I don't like the ideas, it's just that they are tough to fit anywhere. Case in point... several years ago I had a co-worker tell me that her boyfriend had quit his job to pursue his life's passion. I'm always facinated by such people, and immediately asked her what he was doing, expecting to hear that his life's passion was the culinary arts, writing, acting, or something equally high risk/long shot high payoff. "So what is his passion?" I asked. "Juggling." she says. I immediately burst out laughing.

Ever since, I have found the idea of someone's life passion that they pin their hopes and dreams on being Juggling a very funny one, but I have yet to find an appropriate spot in my fiction to put it. But here I am, brain like molasses, relating the story to you because my brain has been told it needs to write something. Think about THAT the next time you get "writers block"!

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