Thursday, May 17, 2007

Writer's Block...

I'm teaching a class on Saturday called "Finding the Off Switch to Your Internal Editor," which focus on writer's block and how to keep writing and moving forward when you come to the end of a line.  While I was researching "writer's block," (Research?  I don't need no stinkin' research, I'm fully accredited in writer's block...) but as I was saying, while I was "researching" writer's block, I found these quotes that you may enjoy, understand, and/or appreciate--
(link to the full story above)

Following are some thoughts on the subject, and even a few tricks for unblocking.

Louise GlΓΌck (Descending Figure, Ecco Press 1981): "I question the assumption behind writer's block, which is that one should be writing all the time, that at any given time there is something worthwhile to be made into a poem. We become obsessed with silence then, and fail to cultivate patience. Of course I've experienced that anxious silence we call writer's block, but at times we simply have nothing to say. Then we need to get back in the world and put more life into ourselves —and hope we'll be vouchsafed some more poems. In fact, there aren't that many "real poems" to be written in any given year. Nevertheless we set up a schedulea set of habits that minimize the anxiety. But I find it scarier to sit down and write garbage. Then I do better not to write poetry at all— I write letters and cook."

Francine du Plessix Gray (World Without End, Simon & Schuster 1981): "There are two kinds of writer's block. One is when you can't write anything, and another is when you can't solve a technical problem in a novel or short story. I don't believe in the overall writer's blockyou can always write something else: book reviews, or another genre. Then the pain of ceasing to write is not so present. I seek refuge in nonfiction. In the past—when I had longer spells between books and was less in demand for book reviews—I wrote letters."

Stanley Kunitz (Poems of Stanley Kunitz 1928-1978, Atlantic Monthly Press 1979): "Writer's block is a natural affliction. Writers who have never experienced it have something wrong with them. It means there isn't enough friction—that they aren't making enough of an effort to reconcile the contradictions of life. All you get is a sweet, monotonous flow. Writer's block is nothing to commit suicide over—it simply indicates some imbalance between your experience and your art, and I think that's constructive. You have to get in mesh again—better sit and think about it."

James Merrill (Scripts For The Pageant, Atheneum 1980): There's no such thing as a simple writer's blockyou're usually in some other troubling predicament, whether you know it or not. Writer's block exists as an overt symptom of something else, not as its cause. The answer is to get away from your desk. You usually just weather it, wait for it to pass, go about your life—do anything to refresh you."

Tim O'Brien (Going After Cacciato, Delacorte 1978): "I've never had it—I'm not sure what it is. The only solution is to write and write and write. When I talk to students or others who'd been blocked, I often find it was just an absence of thought—they didn't know what to write about. If you know what it is you care about it's easy to write. Those who can't rite probably shouldn't."

Lynne Sharon Schwartz (Balancing Acts, Harper & Row 1981): "I don't believe in any such thing. I'm very puritanical -you just have to sit down and do it. I haven't had writer's lock since I began to write seriously—which was ten years go. Before that, it wasn't that I sat down and tried to write and couldn't, I just didn't sit down. Now it is vital that I write, and I do it like a job. I can't afford writer's block—I started very late, and hear time's winged chariot."

1 comment:

  1. Wow ~ I really like the Louise Gluck quote. I think I'll print that one out and tape it near my desk.


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