It’s been one hell of a week, and yes, it’s only Tuesday, so you can imagine how much has gone on. I am quite overwhelmed, and what is eating me up a little too much on the side, is what I like to call a bane bouquet.
Last Saturday I was at a workshop for Ghanaian poets and it came up. A lot of writers will agree with me that a writer’s block is more complex than simply feeling uninspired to write. Some people brush it off as a cliché, or an excuse just to be lazy and unproductive…and that ‘oh you could always write about not being able to write’ (which is what I am somehow doing now) but question is, does writing about being unable to write or feeling uninspired to really help? Effectively? Breaks the dam? All the damn time? Well I disagree.
The reason why I choose to nickname Writers’ Block as A Bane Bouquet is because of how multilayered this torturous ordeal is. I am one who is fond of scribbling something down every day. Might be my own words, or a quote from a book I am on. And then adding on, if I can, to the novel I am working on, as well as other writing projects. However, for the last 3 weeks or so, I have experienced not just one layer of a block, but several of them. Let’s just place this glass vase there, by the open French windows, and fill it a quarter-way with water. We are about to arrange some ‘flowers’ in it.
You see there are various ‘nonsenses’ that can cause a block, one of them being ‘unnecessary pressure.’ You will be sitting ‘your somewhere,’ just writing, really…and blogging them, and someone will be following and reading and commenting till they start wanting more. “We can’t wait for you to publish.” “A sequel to this will be great.” “Oh you’re so good, I need you to write A or B for me.” “Why haven’t you written in a while? What?! Why nooo, You cannot stop.” Leaving you feeling like you owe all your ‘fans’ greatness. YOU HAVE GOT TO BE GREAT, OR ELSE… pressure. Pressure is one of the fine banes. See, yes we can all say “oooh the pressure is good” or “I don’t let the pressure get to me” but chale, it is not that easy. SOMETIMES, the pressure DOES get to you, and becomes THE REASON WHY you are stuck. Because, ah…is it your greatness?
This bane easily melts into the next I’d like to mention – self-doubt. Lord, Lord, Lord, the number of tiiimes I have packed up my tools, heading for the dustiest corner of the storeroom to dump them there because I feel like “I am never going to meet their expectation. I am not that good. See the crap I just wrote. I have been lying to myself saa, now look at me. I have resigned. I quit!” Too many shameful or shameless times, ha! This is not to say it is the pressure that births self-doubt, no. We ourselves are another of the banes. Our perfectionist selves when it comes to the works we are on intending to publish after we are done with them. Please, if you were not a bit of a perfectionist there, why do you have one or two complete manuscripts lying there with no hope of getting published…you WILL NOT let it out, it will be suicide. At least I have one of such. I could have put it out there, why not? A novel is a novel…anaa? But you are careful, you want your maiden publication to be near perfect, and on you write, on you write till the doubts creep up once a while when you hit a loophole, or just aren’t’ getting the groove you so very much need to keep the fire you started when you began with that chapter the day before. You poke yourself in the side, irritating yourself, saying “aaaah there you have it! Another sign that you aren’t cut out for this. It will never happen!” And you stop, and call it a day, or a week, or a month…as I have done with my novel-in-progress.
Now this may surprise you but the next to arrange in our vase is Spontaneity. Yup. Spontaneity can also be a writer’s bane. This is when I say that ‘sometimes, creativity gets in the way of creativity.’ A little over a month ago, I met an amazing young lady who had seen my work somewhere and loved it so much she had been looking for me. So when she finally ‘found’ me she asked that I help out with a project. And as you may have guessed, it involved me writing! Now should this be hard? Writer, you have been asked to write…same fiction yi ara. And you are given going to be paid for it. I was pleased to take it on. I asked for when I was expected to produce something. And I was given two months. I told you this happened A little over a month ago right? Ahahn…I have just about two weeks to go and I am still not past the synopsis. Laziness? No people. Spontaneity has crippled me for weeks. For the first week for instance, after I took it on, I was able to write everything but that. I read up on the area I was working in, so I get the structure write (it is supposed to be a radio play, actually) and drafted a working skeleton. That was it. That has been it. I have written a few poems, short stories and articles after, but the radio play, absolutely nothing…zero inspiration! And what adds to it is my need for the finished product to be unquestionably good. I will not, cannot force it. It won’t work, it will show through the work, and will drive me crazy. So then it stalls. A complete block there…while the dam overflows on other planes.
The reverse of this also happens sometimes. When you are so focused on one thing, you are unable to pause and write although you feel a few coming. There are times your mind is blank resulting in the block…other times your mind is overloaded and so nothing works, also leading to a block.
A lot of the time one may experience just one of these, or a couple of them at a go. But here I am with glass vase full of assorted banes I’m staring at. I am experiencing nearly all of them, and the catch here too is that I cannot throw them out or burn them. I have to keep them in water till the next bundle comes in. We need the pressure because somehow it is a show of support or endorsement, we need to go through the self-doubts in order to overcome our minds, we need not only the spontaneous writes, there is some discipline you learn through the writing of either proposed writes or projects.
And yes, not being able to annihilate them is another bane…
It is deep.