Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Rain: A source of ebb and flow.

Ever felt like the heavens just opened up and poured out all the pain, worry, and negativity of years upon you? I think that's where I've found myself for the past month. And it has really bothered me. I had wonderful plans for doing Camp NaNoWriMo and JuNoWriMo, work with my writing group, and getting through some particularly hard scenes in my fiction and everything concerning my writing came to a screeching halt as this hurricane began in my life.

I usually write to be able to get through the storms anymore and when the hurricane came I found myself completely blocked. I couldn't blog, when I tried to work on my story it all felt wrong, and piece after piece of my life just fell out of place. And you know what, today a piece just fell that I didn't think I could take. And after a difficult conversation with someone yesterday, the storm should have washed me away. But it was that piece that is washing away in the grand scheme of things that brought me here today to write. Because this is the first time since the hurricane began that I've seen a better tomorrow. Perhaps that means I'm in the eye of the storm. If so that means I need to get myself prepared for the other side, because I'm not about to let myself fall apart for a hurricane that I'm going to survive.

That's why I'm writing today, and I hope that my blocked period of writing is over. But as I think about all this it got me to thinking about why people have writers block and what keeps them from putting words down on the page. In my opinion writers block is a real thing, but it has a lot less to do with our actual ability to write words and a lot more to do with the emotional state that we reside in.

For example I remember hearing on a Writing Excuses Episode (Season 1, episode 16) once that Howard Taylor once had a block when he was writing Schlock Mercenary strip. He was trying to make it work, but he found himself needing to know the mathematics to how fast the space station was spinning. He did that and suddenly he was able to write again. As I think about that it wasn't an inability to write, it was the fact that emotionally he couldn't connect with flow any longer and that kept him from writing.

Ebb and flow are terms that we typically use when we talk about water, but creativity works in a very similar way. Sometimes the creativity is in high gear and beauty seems to come effortlessly, this state is known as flow. We can create because we have done the work, both mentally and emotionally to be able to flow. However there is also the state of ebb. Ebb is when we are preparing for our work, doing our prewriting, researching, and even when we are exercising.  These are times when we are preparing for flow once again. If we stayed in a constant state of flow our work would actually over time get worse because we wouldn't have anything left after a while to give. Our energy would be exhausted, our knowledge would fail, and we wouldn't have any experiences left to draw upon. Howard's experience was one of knowledge, and because he is a professional he realized what was going on, allowed himself the time to be in ebb and once he had the knowledge that he needed he shifted back into flow.

Buy this book.
Steven King describes a similar experience in his book "On Writing." He talks about "The Stand" and how when he was writing it he had a point where he didn't know what was going to happen next. It was the first time he had ever experienced writers block and he had no idea how to deal with it. After a month or so the answer came to him as to what he needed to do and it drove him through the rest of the novel. It was something that he needed to learn about the process of writing that enabled him to make that book so much better. It was simply that everything had grown quiet in his story and he needed to change up things. He changed them with a bomb. Changing the direction of the story was exactly what he needed to do to produce flow.

An effective means of using ebb.

But when you start to think of writers block as ebb it changes things for you. The first thing it changes is that you cannot think of writers block as a negative any longer. You must think of it as what it really is. It is your soul crying at you that you need something else at the moment. Usually it is one of two things. One: You don't want to be writing right now.  And if you don't want to write right now, that's okay. Go do something else. Exercise, read, or do some research. Do something that helps you get in the mood to write. Or it could be number two: You need to pay attention to what you need right now to be able to write. Sometimes you need to do some research. &Sometimes you need to put your life in order. Sometimes you just need time away from your story. When you are experienced you know exactly what you need, but I am still building my library of experiences in writing and that means sometimes I don't know what I need. But it does mean I need to be patient with myself and allow myself the time to be away.

Some professionals tell you that you need to write through block. And I agree with that.  Just because I haven't been able to make much progress this past month, I've still been writing. Just nothing that I feel I can share with anyone, because I have zero confidence in it. You must be willing to shut the door on your writing sometimes to be able to find out what you need to find your flow again.

For me I have had the hurricane interrupt my life with pain, fear, and worry. It got me to think to ask people about the things I didn't know. It got me to consider whether or not I'm a professional or not. It got me to look in the mirror and make a choice.  I choose to write.  Not because I can't do anything else. I could become a social worker, or a teacher, or even a politician, but none of those even come close to the joy I get out of writing.

So in your journey to becoming a professional, remember that you are going to have ebb and flow. Anticipate it. And find your rhythm, because Writers Block ends the day you understand your writing rhythms. And you can experience regular flow.

Sorry I left for so long. It won't happen again.  I'll be back with you on next Monday with another post. I'm giving myself time to get in rhythm again.  Because I'm going to be patient with myself and give you my best. Thanks for sticking around during my drought. Catch ya'll soon.

This is the OG signing out.  Peace.


  1. I think every writer has felt the same way. Glad to have you back!

  2. Living things require water to grow and nothing waters better than a storm. I'm confident that you, having endured the storm, will find your creativity sprouting anew, well-watered and ready to blossom. Ever notice how clear the sky and air gets after a hurricane? Write on!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...