Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Writer’s Block? We Don’t Need No Stinking Writer’s Block!

by Shirley Drew

I started writing my blog for this week on five separate topics. So I have five ideas, one paragraph each—all dead in the water. Why? None of them seemed very good and I had no idea how to develop any one of them into a decent blog. None of the things I usually do to summon my muse were working. (See Waiting for the Muse, January 15, 2014).

Last night I told my husband, “That’s it. I have no ideas at all for this blog.” He asked me if he could help—could he read what I’ve written so far?

“No,” I told him, “Nothing. I’ve got nothing!”

“Well what have you written about in your earlier blogs?” he asked, trying to be helpful. I told him.

“Hmmm…why don’t you write about ‘writers advice about writing’ or something like that?”

“Already tried. It’s no good.”

“Okay. What about doing a review of one or more of your favorite books?”

“Already tried. It’s no good.”

Then I started thinking, What if I have no more ideas for this blog? What if I’m completely tapped out? After only four posts? But I knew it was dangerous to let the “panic pixie” take hold.

A few minutes later my husband finally said, “Why don’t you give it up for tonight and ‘let the boys in the basement do their work’?"

This comment is a reference to Stephen King’s novel, Bag of Bones, in which the protagonist, Mike Noonan, is a best-selling author facing writer’s block. This is how he (Noonan) explains trying to break through that block:

"So-called higher thought is, by and large, highly overrated. ... It’s generally better to just stand aside and let the boys in the basement do their work. That’s blue-collar labor down there, non-union guys with lots of muscles and tattoos. Instinct is their specialty."

Which I take to mean, “Stop trying to over-think it. Let it go and something will come to you.” Well, I'm no best-selling author, but the advice makes sense, so I decided to let it go and get a good night's rest.

When I woke up this morning, I went to my study, opened my small notebook entitled, "Shirley's Really Great Ideas" and starting writing down my thoughts as fast as I could. Hold on boys, I thought. I don’t take shorthand. Indeed, the boys in the basement had been working hard all night. And with a little luck, and some work on my part, I’ll share some of those ideas with you in future blogs.


Sarah Reichert said...

Excellent post. Thank you! Its good to know that I'm not the only one with six or seven half-done assignments just sitting there. Sometimes I think we underestimate what our "basement workers" are capable of.

Patricia Stoltey said...

I get stuck a lot for blog topics. I'm now ready to write post #1,236 and all I can think about is the 5,000 other things I have to do. I think my blog readers are tired of hearing about my To Do List. :D

Anonymous said...

This is exactly what I do when I can't think of something to write for my own blog, but since I'm not a fan of Stephen King, I never thought of it quite that way. May the boys in the basement bring you many wonderful ideas.

Sarah Sullivan said...

I could have written this post! (except for the fact that I have never read "Bag of Bones" and my name isn't Shirley. Other than that though...) So glad to know that someone else out there is not bursting with great ideas for this blog at every moment. I think I'll go for a walk and let the boys in the basement do their thing

Shirley Drew said...

Thanks everyone for your comments! May the boys in your basements do their thing!

p.s. Patricia: have you really written that many posts? Or am I just being gullible? Either way, best of luck on the next one!

Share a Post