I don’t believe in writer’s block. It’s bullshit and an excuse to be lazy. Still, somehow I’m convincing myself that I’m blocked right now, even though I know that’s not the case and that I am, in fact, just being a pathetic dildo.
So, for you, if you’re struggling as I am, and for me, here are the following things I know about writing.
1. There is no Muse.
If there was, we would have discovered a way to kill it and harvest its creativity-juice, which we’d then make into a pill for creatively challenged people to take.
There is no Muse. He/She would be extinct, or crazy, or have rabies, or a certain flu-mutation that killed humans. H1M1 – Muse flu.
There is no fucking muse, so stop looking.
2. There’s no “Good Time” to Write.
Not in the morning, not in the evening, not in the afternoon. The best time to write is when you have time to write.
I’ve got kids. Kids eat time like cannibals eat stupid tourists. I’ve also got a job that expects me to be there, forty hours a week, and to pay attention while I’m there, because apparently my relationship with them revolves solely around what they want out of life. I’ve also got a wife that still, against all odds, enjoys talking with me from time to time. I’ve also got a garden, books to read, a writing group, and some other bullshit.
There’s no good time. Get over yourself, you dumb dick. Write when you have the time to write.
3. There is no “Good Place” to Write.
Go make a list of your ten favorite authors.
Now let’s make a bet. I’m willing to bet my entire vast fortune on the fact that a large portion of those writers never had a writer’s sanctuary. I bet they never had a massive study, lined with books and mahogany desks, and taxidermied animals, and racks of pipes, and a painting of Shakespeare.
I bet they didn’t have a guest house, built in the back yard, with a fireplace, and soothing jazz, and Cognac, and more pipe racks, and more paintings of Shakespeare.
Oh, you make me sick. There is no good place to write. Write in your chair, with kids all over you. Write at the beach. Write at work. Write in the jungle as grave-robbers shoot at you for stealing the artifacts that they just stole. (They belong in a museum!)
4. There is no “Right Way” to Write.
The only right way is the way that gets you to stop being such a pile of dicks and actually write something. You don’t need an outline, but guess what, you can have one because this is America and dudes with eagles and machine guns and Rick Springsteen tattoos say that you can have, or shun, all the outlines you want. That’s why we came to America! The English were attempting to make us outline, or not, and we wouldn’t have it. It’s this kind of righteous refusal that caused Dee Schneider and company to write “We’re Not Gonna Take it,” because we fucking aren’t gonna take it. We’re not going to take outlining, or not outlining, as a rule — because we’re a nation of angry monkeys in star-spangled hats and our simian brains can’t even comprehend your petty human rules.
5. There is no “Best Thing” to Write on or With.
I’m guilty of this one.
There are two laptops in my house. One is a beautiful Macbook that I cared for lovingly for two full years. The other is a shitty old Thinkpad from 2007, that I fixed on a whim. Guess which one of these computers my kids have claimed.
Did you say Mac? Thinkpad? You’re dead to me. The right answer is both. My kids use both of them, and I have to live with that. And I am not a man that tolerates computer sharing well. I am what some might call “a bit obsessive” about my computers.
Obsessive is probably an overstatement. Giving your computer a loving wipe-down and dusting, along with a few gentle words of encouragement every night is perfectly normal.
But whatever. I’ve got to live with this. The Thinkpad, though old and shitty, is built like a German War-Machine and it runs well with Linux. Also, it’s old enough that my children are slightly repulsed by it because it’s not as shiny as the Macbook.
Would I rather be writing on the Macbook? Where I have the Mac version of Scrivener, and Final Draft, and MS Word, and shiny Mindmapping and Timelining software? You’re god damn right I would. I would shotgun a monster truck over every one of your grandmothers to write on that computer. And that’s the problem, of course. My modern consumerist brain has convinced me that my productivity hinges on the fanciness of the computer on which I’m writing. And of course that’s bullshit. And there’s a rational part of my mind that knows that.
But the other part of my mind…that part is sitting behind the wheel of a monster truck, staring at all of your grandmothers, just waiting for the green light.
So it’s good that I use the Thinkpad. I need to remember that even an older computer like this is such an incredible and complex device that my owning one is an unimaginable luxury. Even the richest kings of old look like shit-wallowing peasants when compared to me and the fact that I could, without thinking, pitch this beast across the room and buy another one (it was about $150.00 on eBay) without worrying too much about it.
And you know what? If the lights went out tomorrow, I could go buy 10 notebooks and about a million pens for $30.00 or less.
There’s no best thing to write on. Just write, you awful bag of shit. Make words. Get them on whatever you can, whenever you can, however you can.
6. There are no Good Story Ideas.
Ideas aren’t inherently good or bad. This applies to stories, of course. If you’re considering, say, becoming a white supremacist, getting a tattoo of your favorite band’s name on your face, or fighting a gorilla because he doesn’t look so big, these are all bad ideas. But story ideas aren’t inherently good or bad to begin with.
Story ideas are kind of like children. It’s more about how you raise them than how they’re born. After bursting out of the mind-womb, that story-baby might have a lazy eye, a few extra fingers and eight assholes. Fine. That’s fine. When you really think about it, no amount of assholes is “too many” assholes anyway. But your story baby doesn’t have to live with eight assholes. You can change it. You can make it beautiful. So don’t throw that eight-assholed monster in the river just yet. Let it breath and take a few walks around the village. Let it scare a few kids. Take it home and teach it a few tricks.
Let your ideas breathe and evolve. And don’t worry about whether they’re “literary” or “genre.” Only assholes make that distinction. Good stories are good stories. You’re trying to write a good story. If you’re trying to write a literary story, then Jesus Christ, I don’t even know what to do with you. You’re probably drinking brandy and wearing a fez right now and not a damn thing I say will break through your rigid crust of self-importance.
Good stories are good stories, no matter the genre or style. Write a good story and the right people will find it.
I think this is a good start. Not a complete list by any means, but it’s getting there. This covers the major bases on how I delude myself into thinking that I can’t get my writing done. I’m sure I’ll think of more as I go, but I won’t worry too much as long as I’m writing.
We’ll talk more about evolving, and other stuff, as this blog grows and progresses and maybe even finds a reason for its existence.
Come back again, won’t you?