I don’t get Writer’s Block. I get Writer’s Bottleneck.
I’ve blogged a few times about what I call “Writer’s Bottleneck” but I don’t know that I’ve ever elaborated well. In general, I don’t experience writer’s block. And in fact, when I think of that term, I’m reminded of the scene in Wonder Boys when Professor Tripp says “I don’t believe in writer’s block” and his student James Leer looks at Tripp’s towering manuscript and replies, “no kidding.”
I don’t have manuscripts teetering under their own weight around my room but I have lists and notes and to-do lists filled with ideas for essays, blog posts, stories, books. What happens to me is that I put off assigning a priority to anything and before I know it, I’m surrounded by ideas. Once I choose the next topic to write, the rest find their own priority. I forget about them or I intentionally postpone them. But until I forge ahead by picking anything, I get anxious about the ideas backing up and I don’t write.
I had a clear priority over the summer. I wrote a book. While I was coming up with chapters and a plan to write, I was overwhelmed with other ideas to write. I outlined a couple of stories and drafted several articles. But once I focused on the book, everything else fell away.
Now I’ve published that book and I’m back to being surrounded by ideas. I know I need to blog to promote the book. I want to blog about the experience of writing a non-fiction book about work. I want to blog about this experience of self-publishing. I want to blog about the books I’m reading and the movies I’ve been watching. So I’m just adding to the lists right now. Once I focus, it will be easy to forget all the middling ideas and execute.
But for now, I’m practicing another technique I’ve learned to break the bottleneck: writing about the bottleneck.