Fear and Hockey Pucks
A sudden loss of consciousness is not a good thing. Neither is having no ideas about what to write. Both leave you pretty much a doorstop. Fortunately if your loss of consciousness is due to some emotional stress or the sight of blood a simple smack on the cheek or a glass of cold water tossed in your face will get you dancing again. But what happens when you, for all intents and purposes, are sitting at your computer all pumped and primed to write brilliant sentences and not nary a one pops into your noggin? Um. It is without a doubt the worst feeling in the world, well next to root canal. It's like your brain has turned into chip dip. Your creative juices have solidified in your veins. Your heart has stopped beating. You can't breathe. The walls are closing in. Monkeys are eating your soul. Okay. Relax. Take a breath. I know what you're thinking. Just another stupid blog about breaking writer's block. Nah. I don't believe in writer's block. I do however believe in extreme fear and in my opinion fear is the basis of all writer interuptus. Then again fear is the emotional basis for everything we do—we eat because we fear starvation, we wash our hands because we fear germs, we get married because we fear being alone, we wear pants because we fear getting arrested and tossed into the cracker factory where we will spend the rest of our life drooling in a lime green hospital gown. You get the idea.
It is my thesis that the writer who can't write is not writing not because he or she is blocked but because he or she is scared to death! There I said it. You're scared. We're all scared. Writing is like opening your soul, spilling the contents and letting the world walk all over it. And not only walk but judge. "Here you go," we say. "My very life essence is on this page. Now judge me." That's freakin' scary folks. And we do it willingly. I know I've done it. I am now officially a published author open to criticism from people who don't know me, don't love me, wouldn’t know me if they fell over me in the Walmart parking lot. Yikes!
I don't think that the lack of ideas is a matter of being blocked. It's not that there is some huge obstacle, a wall or boulder keeping your ideas from flowing. A block implies a presence of some sort, something real that is movable by force. Not the case. It's just good old fashioned fear. Of which I am Queen. But fear is manageable once you figure out why you're scared. Often the very thing you fear has no basis in reality. Like my seemingly irrational fear of hockey pucks. It wasn't until my sister, Barbara explained it to me. You see when I was little girl we often had dinner at our pastor's house. Mrs. Pastor served hockey pucks. I hated them, round, black hard things that gave me a belly ache. Turns out they were not hockey pucks but little meat loaves. I'm no longer afraid of hockey pucks. Meatloaf might be another story. But you get my point. Name the fear and it will start to go away.
So what are your hockey pucks? The judgment that is sure to follow? Discovering something about yourself or someone else. Look at this way. I guess I'd rather be a writer having my words judged than a cardiac surgeon transplanting a heart. Could you imagine the review if that went bad? Not everyone will love your work. Not everyone will understand it. Not everyone is going to ask for your autograph, or as my son put it—your authorgraph.
Ideas are everywhere. There's no magic formula or slap in the face that will make an idea materialize. I mean life is not a giant scratch and sniff. It's a matter of waiting, waiting until you're ready to receive it. It's just how our toast is buttered. And then you do your best and let the shrapnel fly where it wants. But I know, it is hard. So how about it? Name your fears and let's smash them.