W is for Writer’s Block
From early on, I decided that W would be for Writer’s Block in this series. After all, what problem is more universal for writers than sitting down in front of a big white screen or piece of paper–and have no words come. It’s something all writers understand.
And then, when I sat down to write this…nothing. I was verbally impotent. I swear this has never happened before. Not to me. It’s kind of…you know…could we talk about something else?
The truth is, while writer’s block can be caused by a lot of different things, one of the chief causes is that the writer’s frame of reference has become too narrow. It’s all right. It happens to everyone. You shouldn’t feel bad.
The truth is, there are mountains of words to still be written about writer’s block. It’s just that my frame of reference was too narrow to consider them. I thought about all the other things I’ve considered before–writer’s block sucks, it means I need to research more, it means maybe I need to consider another genre, or maybe it’s time to put down my work.
But it call also mean that my–and I’m sorry to use this word–paradigm is too narrow. It’s something that can happen to all writers, especially when they are competent and have faith in their approach.
In baseball over the past ten or fifteen years, you’ll often see a team employ a shift against certain hitters. For instance, against a right-handed hitter, you’ll see the short stop move over about halfway between second and third and the second baseman play almost directly behind second base. The entire right side is open.
And more often than not, you’ll see the hitter pull the ball so the shortstop can field a grounder and throw him out. It would be easy to hit the ball the other way, where there’s a big opening between first and second. But the batter doesn’t do it. By hitting the ball between second and third, the hitter’s more likely to generate power and hit a double off the wall or a home run over it. Hitting the ball in that direction has always worked, so the hitter’s less likely to go the other way.
The same thing can happen to skilled writers. You see things one way and it always works. Then, sometime when it doesn’t work, it’s too hard to go another way. It’s too hard to reset your frame of reference to find another way to go.
Of such things, batting slumps are made.
And writer’s block.