After a long career as a journalist – more than 3 million published words – I can honestly say I have never suffered from writer’s block.
As a daily newspaper reporter you simply cannot afford the luxury – not with a deadline 30 minutes away and an editor yelling in your ear.
Missing a deadline is a fast track to unemployment and fear is a powerful motivator.
But it’s different for a novelist and I am beginning to understand that.
When I wrote my first novel Spank: The Improbable Adventures of George Aloysius Brown I wrote it in my own time. There was no deadline. No one was yelling in my ear.
And if I didn’t feel like working, who cared? If I chose to, I could put my manuscript aside for weeks at a time without admitting to the slightest pang of uncertainty.
Of course it helps to be totally enamored with your subject, as I am. I wanted to share my passion for the joy of spanking, the excitement, the anticipation, the love:
“Pem Surjani settles over her husband’s knee with a small sigh of satisfaction. There is no hurry. He will keep her waiting. He always does. Time is on her side now.”
I couldn’t wait to write more. Then what?
“He places one hand on the small of her back as if holding her captive and with the other he strokes her thighs and buttocks. She stretches luxuriously, arching her back for him. Nothing is said. Each has a role to play in the early morning drama now reaching its climax behind slatted wooden shutters.”
According to psychologists, writer’s block may have several causes, including running out of inspiration. But maybe it’s because the story itself is beyond the writer’s ability to tell it.
According to Wikipedia, A fictional example can be found in George Orwell‘s novel Keep the Aspidistra Flying, in which the protagonist Gordon Comstock struggles in vain to complete an epic poem describing a day in London: “It was too big for him, that was the truth.”
Which brings me to my second novel, a work in progress. It is far broader, far bigger in scope, more complex and richer in imagination than my first.
Like Orwell’s protagonist, I am not sure I have the talent to write it.
So far, one year into a five-year process, I have not suffered from writer’s block. But I cannot rule it out in future.
And if it happens, I won’t panic. I’ll know what to do. I’ll phone an editor to yell in my ear.