Sometimes I come to the page and nothing happens. No matter how I stare at the page, no matter how long: zippo, zilch, nada, nothing. Case in point, I’ve been staring at my computer screen for roughly four hours, now, trying to squeeze a blogpost out. Two different post titles, at least four different attempts that each and all died within two lines. (The poet William Stafford once said, “There’s no such thing as writer’s block for writers whose standards are low enough.”)
Then I remembered my college English classes, when it’d be mentioned that whomever we were studying at the moment had suffered periods of writer’s block, of dry spells when nothing seemed to be coming. “They coulda written about not being able to write,” was always mentioned, usually in a snarky tone of voice—and sometimes by the professor.
So, with nothing otherwise coming to me to blog about, I’m blogging about not being able to.
In her book, Writing Down the Bones, Natalie Goldberg said you have to be willing “to write the worst junk in the world.” Numerous, countless, other writers and teachers of writing have mentioned how perfectionism makes the words get in the way. Likewise, other writers have echoed James Michener’s, “I’m not a very good writer, but I’m an excellent rewriter.” The trick is getting something written so that you’ll have something to work with.
I’m coming back to that Stafford quote. I poo-pooed those earlier posting attempts, discounting them because they “weren’t working,” but they got me to this very post.