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Archive for June, 2012

On the eve of a very daunting assignment, my high school writing professor came up to me in class with a concerned expression. “You don’t look well.” She said, to which I replied, “Honestly, I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I’m exhausted, my face is flushed, and I feel inexplicably angry. On top of it all, I have a blinding headache!” She placed a hand on my forehead and tisked “I’m sorry to say that you have contracted a very serious condition.” “What’s that?” I asked.           “Being a writer.”

As someone who has, dare I say it, become a master of procrastination; writer’s block can be a particularly troublesome affliction. Writer’s block is more than just not being able to think up what’s going to happen next, it’s a full-blown psychological malady! The symptoms include high irritability, self-deprecation and a seemingly insatiable urge to throw your computer out your second story window. The bad news: there is no cure. If you want to be a writer, you’ll have to suffer through some severe bouts of writer’s block, sometimes regressing to a whimpering mess, spouting threads of incoherent gibberish. The good news: it’s treatable. You may not be able to rid yourself of this maddening disease, but you can definitely manage it when the worst comes about.

My advice is to take a heavy dose of self-realization. Take a hard look at why you are having such a difficult time; usually I find that I’m my own deterrent. Lack of confidence and self-disparagement are the leading causes of writer’s block. In these cases the patient chooses to create  a condition that makes success impossible in order to avoid what they think is inevitable failure.

The treatment: Make it a habit of writing something absolutely terrible everyday.

Write something without thinking about it, without planning it out, without stopping to fix sentence structures or to use a thesaurus (we all do it). Really dig into it and force yourself to keep typing even though you realized halfway through that this may very well be the single worst piece of writing ever written in the history of the printed word. And when you’re done, sit back and read it. One of two things will happen: you’ll either say “Well this is a complete load of shit!” or you’ll say “Well this isn’t as bad as yesterday’s, now that was a load of shit!” You’ll begin to realize that your worst isn’t so bad, and with time you may even get better.

When you are faced with writer’s block the most important thing to remember is that the only way you can over come it is to write. Victor Hugo used to have one of his servants take his clothes and leave him stranded naked in a room where he would have no alternative but to write. But what do you write when you have writer’s block? Write something beautiful, write something awful, write something you want to write. You don’t have to write naked, but you do have to write. Because if you stop, if you let your block become an excuse, you might not be able to start again. There may not be a cure for writer’s block, but that doesn’t mean you have to die from it.

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I awoke the day after my graduation to find the world exactly as I had left it. I’m not sure if that’s such a comforting notion. Should things feel different, should I feel different? Does my new degree in Film entitle me to any lavish perks or superior professional status? Shouldn’t the world be bending over backwards to offer me a buffet of opportunities, eager to have someone of my qualifications enter the fold? I suppose it’s only when you reach the horizon that you realize the world is round.

Well publishers aren’t knocking down my door, the phone hasn’t rung all day and I have one new email from my bank asking me to upgrade my accounts. I guess I’ll do the same thing I did yesterday and the day before that and the day before that as well; sit down and write something. I’ve always found comfort in that.

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A blazing fire burns somewhere in the darkness;

From afar it is a beacon, brilliant orange flames licking the night sky.

But closer still the air is thick with the smell of ink and kerosene;

And atop the bed of flames pages curl like blackened wings.

All words turn to ashes and are swept away by the wind.

 

A free verse inspired by Ray Bradbury’s evocative novel and Neil Gaiman’s short story The Man Who Forgot Ray Bradbury.

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Stuff your eyes with wonder, live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories. – Ray Bradbury

Nothing more need be said. You’ll never be forgotten.

Ray Bradbury (August 22, 1920 - June 5, 2012)

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A New Day

When I write, I have to be in the right mood and also be in the right space. My surroundings add a lot to my state of mind as a writer and help stimulate my creativity and imagination. In order to freely express your thoughts, you need a space in which you can feel comfortable being yourself.

We just moved to a new apartment and I’m looking forward to getting a feel for my new space!

New space, new start.

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