Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Writers Block, Laziness, or Procrastination

I am one of those writers who doesn't particularly believe in writers block -- or at least doesn't suffer from it. But the issue is more complex than this statement implies. Forget beliefs. Hammett famously suffered from writers block (though I don't know if he used the term "writers block"). He basically wanted to be productive, but just couldn't manage it. He frittered away time, and in the end, was only a productive writer of crime fiction for about five years (1929-34), give or take.

I write every weekday (and often on weekends), but usually on corporate projects. I have a quasi-personal investment in this writing, and it requires some creativity, but it mostly gets done because I have to make a living. By contrast, my fiction writing -- usually crime writing -- is sporadic. I would be a more disciplined fiction writer if (distorting and paraphrasing Flannery O'Connor's Misfit from "A Good Man is Hard to Find") there had been someone there to shoot my every minute of my life.

Two other points: I have gone through periods of filling paper creatively, but such writing comes out poorly -- typing rather than writing. I have also started many stories with good first scenes, and/or strong ideas or hooks, but they often (but not always) fall apart without planning or forethought. Writing stories is also a way of avoiding working on a novel. (Highsmith, at her most productive, used to write stories on weekends as a break from the novel she was writing during the week.) Apparently writing a blog is a way of avoiding both.

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