Writer's constipation: It's taken me 15 minutes to write this one line

constipation.jpg For the last few weeks, I’ve been struck by one of the more irritating of writers’ afflictions.

There’s a phenomenon that occurs when one is given too much freedom. It’s the paralysis that you feel when looking at an empty, fresh page in a notebook. It’s the blank you draw when you’re asked to create something, anything, without any guidelines or restrictions.

This isn’t my problem.

I know how to handle the paralysis. I’ve created a number of different categories on this blog that represent areas of interest, and I try to write one post a week that falls into one of these categories.

I collect inspirational materials and ideas sporadically throughout the week, dumping them into appropriately named buckets. And on Fridays I look in the buckets and pick something that might be interesting to write about. As you can see, I have a number of things going in every bucket but one: Personal.

But that’s mainly because I’m trying to take the Personal section in a new direction, one that’s less about me complaining about how tired and/or sick I was this past week (or how much poop I cleaned up), and one that might be more interesting. I just haven’t figured out exactly what that direction might be.

And while this post might still skew somewhat toward the complainy, this is not the problem I’m writing about.

I don’t have writer’s block, an affliction that’s typically considered to be an absence of things to write about Which I think is a misnomer. If it’s a lack of ideas, then it should be called something like writers’ drought or something like that.

I’ve had writers’ drought. It’s horrible. This isn’t that.

What I have, at the risk of again straying near the scatological, could be classified as writer’s constipation. I do have things to write about, quite a bit actually, but I just can’t seem to get it past my internal editor and onto the page.

Last week you may have noticed a marked absence of posts on Wednesday and Thursday. Last week was maddening. I had ideas, outlines, mindmaps, summaries…all the ingredients for a post, but I just couldn’t get it out and onto the page. The words seemed cheap, poorly chosen. I found myself editing sentences before they were even fully typed out! This makes writing a 500 or 1000 word post take FOREVER. And all you end up with is a patchy, unsatisfying mess.

What occurs to me is that this may have been brought on by the loss of my go-to punching bag of 4 months, a certain appliance dealership. Great for the storage of food, but not so good for loosening up the writerly muscles.

So how do I get past this? he asked, resisting juvenile puns.

At this point, I have no answer. I think the best course of action is to just resign myself to having to struggle for awhile. I had a pretty good run of several weeks where things seemed to flow for me. It was bound to bind up some time.

Perhaps I just need to start writing drunk. I hear that works for lots of people. Are there downsides? None that I can see. I wonder if I could smuggle a bottle into the coffee shop…