Writer’s Block

I just found this in the Xmas 1995 edition of Ansible…

… the infallible Robert Sheckley cure for writers’ block. He said he tried a drastic exercise to get things flowing again (an enema for the muse, as Nick Lowe liked to say): making himself type 5000 words a day, any words so long as he met the quota, grimly bashing out stuff like … Oh words, where are you now that I need you? Come quickly to my fingertips and release me from this horror, horror, horror … O God, I am losing my mind, mind, mind … But wait, is it possible, yes, here it is, the end of the page coming up, O welcome kindly end of page….

After days and days of this, Sheckley made the great discovery that it was now actually easier to write a story than go on suffering. And so he did, quite quickly and happily. I have passed on this sure-fire advice to several aspiring authors who believe there is a Closely Guarded Secret to it all, but none of them ever thanked me. (Incidentally, it was Robert Silverberg who, when once asked if he’d ever had writers’ block, said: ‘Yes — it was the worst ten minutes of my life.’) [3/93]

Setting yourself a word target, say a Greene a day, is a very useful way of making progress, even if it is, as James Swallow says, like grinding your teeth down on a concrete block. If procrastination is more your game then you can certainly do worse than work way through the entire Ansible back catalogue – interesting, fun, rewarding and very, very time consuming.

About Paul Graham Raven

Science fiction, foresight, (post)humanities, infrastructure futures research. Guitarist, scruffy mountebank. Opinions mine, not my employer's. Velcro City · http://www.velcro-city.co.uk
This entry was posted in writing. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s