Friday, May 13, 2016

2 Causes of Writers' Block & Poetry Friday

..Howdy, Campers ~ and happy Poetry Friday! (original poem and PF link below)

We TeachingAuthors are in the middle of a round about Writers' Block.

Mary Ann writes about The Scariest Thing on Earth--Your W.I.P; Bobbi helped me understand the facts about writers' block in her post with the great title, Once Upon a Block-ness Monster; JoAnn feels better able to handle writers' block in her new writing chair; Carla says for her, writers' block comes in the form of too many ideas.

In this 2:45 minute video interview, author Neil Gaiman makes a distinction between writers' block and simply being stuck. And my fav children's literature ezine, Quercus, alerted me to Marion Dane Bauer's views on this topic.

For me, the two causes of writers' block are fear and perfectionism (who are most certainly twin brothers).

Fear and Perfection--twin brothers ~ from by Maria Bavuso

So what do I DO when I'm blocked? Well...I could read the 22 rules of storytelling from Pixar. Chances are, one of those might unclog my blocked pipes.

Note that I said that these might help. I haven't actually tried of them yet. But you should. You definitely should.

During one of those fear-filled times in my life, I told a friend I'd stopped writing completely. How, I asked her, do you begin again? She looked around. Then she shared her journal writing secret: write for just one minute each night. So I tried it. I mean, who couldn't write for one minute, for heaven's sake?  It sounds so simple, but her secret did the trick. (I wrote about it here.)

Thank you, long-ago friend!  This is the assignment in my UCLA Extension's Writers' Program courses:

Write a one-minute journal each day. Take just one (timed) minute to record the thing you most want to remember about today. It can be weighty—that your friend passed the bar exam, for example. But it could be that one moment—seeing the long slant of the sun on a skateboarder as she skated past.

from by Domas
As an example, here's something I wrote in a rush:

I'm always frantic in the evening; I like to write my daily poem before Gary comes home. But tonight he came home and I had nothing.

I asked him if he had any ideas for a poem, for something that sticks...and as I said it, I saw an image of the things that stick to my clothes on a hike.

Sometimes the Universe is good to me. Well, most times, actually.

by April Halprin Wayland

It's like something that clings to your shirt—
one of those blue sticky flowers,
or a foxtail.

At the end of the day,
you take off your jacket
and there it is,

soft like a real fox's tail,

and sometimes

It must be dealt with.

poem © 2016 April Halprin Wayland. All rights reserved

sticky blue plumbago flower
photo by April Halprin Wayland
Okay, Campers--now it's your turn. Attack a fresh page--with words and/or doodles--for one minute. You’ll be glad you did.
And thanks, Violet, for hosting PF today!

fettered by perfectionism and posted with fear by April Halprin Wayland, with considerable help from a decaf latte with extra soy


Robyn Hood Black said...

Oh how I love this post, April! And that is one of the best poem titles ever. :0) (I also swooned at - I mean, enjoyed - the Neil Gaiman clip. I have a little nod to him in my post today, too!)

Penny Parker Klostermann said...

I like Gaiman's take! Makes sense to me.

And thanks to the Universe for being good to you! I love your poem...especially

"At the end of the day,
you take off your jacket
and there it is,"


Esther Hershenhorn said...

April Halprin Wayland: I heart you!
I really do.
You captured volumes in this post; you captured volumes in your poem.
Your Fan Esther

Linda B said...

I just bookmarked this, April, know I'll return to it again and again. It's a rich source of information, plus your poem is one of hope for the rest of us. I know it will "stick" to me. Thank you.

Carmela Martino said...

This post really packs a punch, April, especially your poem! These lines in particular struck me:
>>and sometimes
So true.

Violet N. said...

Thank you, April, this is brilliant! I often read my Poetry Friday collection with a journal open beside me, ready to collect new good ideas. This one-minute challenge is going in it for sure! And I love your poem - a perfect metaphor for that (at least) one idea that makes the cut!

laurasalas said...

Wow--what an ending, April. I don't struggle with writer's block--I seem fairly willing to write crap at any given moment:>) But I love the Pixar list for when I'm in a rut or talking with a friend who's stuck. Thank you for your wisdom and wonderful poem:>)

Bridget Magee said...

I needed to read this post today. Your poem will "stick" with me. Thank you, April. =)

Molly Hogan said...

Wonderful, rich post from start to finish! Thanks so much for sharing. I, too, have bookmarked this page to come back to when I have more time to explore all the resources embedded within it. Thanks for sharing!

CS Perryess said...

Ahoy April,
This poem is marveloso. I'm in the process of finishing a stunning time at the Highlights Foundation. The folks here at "A Week with Patti Gauch" will really love this poem, too.
May life be good,

Margaret Simon said...

Thanks for this post. When I have writer's block it's usually because I am not writing the thing that must be dealt with. I have many avoidance strategies, like reading and commenting on blog posts;)

Brenda at FriendlyFairyTales said...

For me, the sticking point is wondering if I have enough time to get far enough into the story to make a real improvement. If, instead, I start with the goal of enjoying rereading where I'm at, it flows so much better. I love your poem. I feel like my intentions are stuck like a burr, and they often find me reading or writing until late at night. They must be dealt with. :-)

April Halprin Wayland said...

Dear All ~

Thank you for your comments. The ironic thing is that this post would NOT come together. I had scraps of things I wanted to say...things to possibly include...several poem runner-ups. When I finished six hours later (I kid you not) as if I'd just finished a cross-country run, I was sure it made no sense. I simply decided it was done. So, let's raise a cuppa latte to today's conquest of Perfection and Fear!

Doraine said...

Raising my cuppa latte to you today, my dear.

Donna Smith said...

Yes, indeed, it DOES need to be dealt with! I also loved your panic when your poem wasn't done before your husband got home! I do the same thing - though mostly I get up earlier to write uninterrupted. My poetry Friday post was a panicky mish-mash too today!