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Writer’s Block

I’ve been thinking about writer’s block. Grateful I don’t have it now, yet in the early writing days I was plagued by my harsh critic. My own expectations were sky high, the need to sound writerly came out sounding stilted. A too tight pair of designer jeans. When our clothes are too tight we don’t move well and nothing’s fun. Over time I saw what the block was telling me: my standards were unnatural and paralyzing. When I became more free-wheeling the writing loosened up.

A question for writers. What if writer’s block is giving you useful information?

Such as – you’re on the wrong path.

How do you get over it?

You don’t want to write a novel about monkeys, you really want to write about elephants (as in the dead elephant in the living room). But writing about elephants could be embarrassing to your family, considered weird or vile. Or whatever the worry might be.

Over the years I discovered doodling, daydreaming and jotting fragments on paper scraps and napkins counted as writing. Thrown in a big file until properly mulched, then explored, they can add up to something. These random thoughts and feelings can become a story, maybe a novel.

When I started thinking about woolly mammoths, I paid attention. Odd? Where had that idea come from? I trusted the images in my head. I read about woolly mammoths and bought a book on the desolate islands of the world. I studied the drawings of islands and noted the sizes of the human population, if any. Could there be mammoths still alive in some remote, frozen place?

These questions soon belonged to a character called Adam, a name he appropriated, convinced that he’d lived among the mammoths in another life. In his dreams he still lived on the island, a lumbering creature among the wolves. I enjoyed the research as well as the writing. The novel is called Feathers & Wax. I hope it will be published one day soon, so others will be able to read it.

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