Charlotte Rains Dixon  

Being Stuck

Wasn’t there once a movie called Being There?  Ah yes, here it is. However, try as I might, I cannot quite connect this movie with the concept of Being Stuck in writing, otherwise known as Writer’s Block.

Why is Writer’s Block on my mind?  Could it be that I have a wee case of it?  Who me?  Nah.  Well, maybe.  Okay, yes, I do.  In truth I don’t believe in Writer’s Block per se, because that implies a lengthy, protracted, torturous experience of not being able to express oneself.  And that is not the case here.  I have just hit a temporary roadblock.  I have momentarily become stuck.

The reason for this is twofold, doctor.  Number one, my crazy schedule at the moment.  I just got back from Nashville, which you can read about in this post and this one.  Next week I’m heading to New York City for the AWP conference.  You will note, if you follow the link to AWP, that the conference is sold out and 7000 people are signed up.  Yes, that is correct–7000 live bodies.  Should be a blast.  I’ve not been to NYC in years.

But I digress.  See how easy it is to avoid the topic of being stuck?  Besides travel, my crazy schedule seems to suddenly include social events which involve every minute of every weekend.  And then, besides all that, there is the necessity to complete deadlines for writing and keep up with my editing for Loose Id.

So, whine, whine, whine.  Poor me, no time to write.  If one of my students complained about this to me I would be very stern and uncompromising and tell them that of course they have time to write, they just aren’t utilizing it.  Because I hate to be a hypocrite, I have thus been pondering the essence of Being Stuck.  More to the point, I’ve been pondering how to get over Being Stuck.  But more on that in a bit.

The essence of Being Stuck is clearly not feeling I have time to write.  So very many times I have airily told a student or colleague that one does not need protracted blocks of time in which to complete a novel.  "Take 15 minutes when you are waiting for your child to finish soccer practice," I would say.  Or, "Write for a few minutes on your lunch break."

So, you would think I’d be following this stellar advice and fitting in bits of writing here and there.  But no.  And why not?  Well, thank you for asking but I’m not really sure.  Perhaps it is that I am not far enough into any of my desired new projects to feel that I have the momentum really rolling.  Once you do reach a certain point, it is like critical mass–you are are so excited about the project it takes on a life of its own and then you can barely stand not to be working on it. 

But I’m not there yet.  And as I’ve been writing this, the thought has occurred to me that maybe what I need is clarity.  I need simply to take the time to familiarize myself with my projects and get very clear on what it is I want to do with them.  In other words, I need to sit down and flesh out the vague idea I have for an erotic romance novel, do some character sketches and describe some settings.  Start making the world so compelling that it will come alive in my mind.

I was going to write a whole thing on rituals for this post.  I had a psychic reading on Saturday and the clairvoyant  had this whole thing she did, dousing herself with Florida water and then waving the flame of a candle towards her.  And as I watched her the thought occurred that perhaps I needed a ritual for my writing.  I heard Isabel Allende speak once and she talked about how she always lit a candle before she started writing.  Rituals like that can be very helpful, a signal to the brain that you are ready to write.  However, I tend to create rituals and forget about them once I get into the mode of writing regularly. 

So, it is becoming clear to me that there is only one solution to the problem and that is to just quit whining about it and get to it.  I’ll let you know how that works out for me.  Right after I get home from AWP.

3 thoughts on “Being Stuck

  1. robert bourne

    I find that writing bits and pieces down during the day helps…when I am in stuck mode I can go back through them at it sort of stokes the fire a little bit..The there are the days when it it’s like a dripping tap..It seems every two minutes and idea pops into my head and I’m scribbling..

  2. Derek

    In Zen, we say being stuck is about being stuck. When we are stuck on our path to enlightenment, we talk about the impasse, which needs to be experienced without resistance.

    This doesn’t mean that we ignore it and loll about doing nothing, we still do what we are doing, but fully acknowledge the impasse together with all the frustration that the ego can throw at us.

    Be stuck, until you are not 🙂

  3. Charlotte

    Robert–I think you bring up a good point because it has always seemed to me that one idea leads to another and another and another. Once I’m in the flow, it seems effortless, it is just getting there that is hard. And sometimes priming the pump helps me to get there.

    Derek–I think that is why I called it being stuck, emphasis on the being, as opposed to having a block. Being implies a state of, well, being, as opposed to a block being an obstacle I have to get around. And I have noticed that with creativity there are certain cycles of growth and energy that alternate with times of lying fallow and composting. I think the fear with the state of being stuck is that it is going to last forever!

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