Sunday, 18 November 2012

Writer's Block or Editoritis?

When I find myself sitting in front of my word document or notebook unable to write, my first excuse is usually a case of writer's block. It's a comfortable explanation that no one can really explain away, because every writer has experienced it at one point or another and most of the time it is something that we need to get ourselves out of. However, to be honest in most cases it is actually a small bout of editoritis.

Editoritis is the annoying campanion on any of my writing journey. Whether it is my inner editor that comes down hard on me while I am on a roll, the bitchy voice in the back of my head vetoing my ideas before they even flow onto a page or biting doubt which hits me when I proofread a finished passage. It's definitely a condition which has cost authors around the world a streak of nerves that could probably wrap around the earth and sun several times. And it is unpredictable, yet if you realise that it is the actual problem that keeps you from writing then at least you are one step closer to getting back into the groove.

Like with the famed "writer's block" the best way to combat editoritis is by writing, because both problems stem from the same root: fear of producing something that you will only yank later on because it is crap. But really, if you write a scene and it is terrible then at least you know that is not the way to go. Often with my writing running straight into a plot cul-de-sac is the way to actually dissolve the creative knot in my head. Sometimes I have to take the story to places where it would (should?) never go to realise exactly where on the plot map my character belongs. Just like sometimes a character  can turn on you and your planning to react in a way you would never have expected. I mean, honestly, those are probably the greatest moments of being a writer.

When your character takes off on their own little mission and you suddenly find yourself in a place in the story that is unexpected, but in the great scheme of your plotline actually makes a lot more sense then what you had in mind. So my cure to writer's block and editoritis: realisation, stubborn ignorance in order to keep writing  and a willingness to look at the passage I wrote that day and say "Well, sh**. My protagonist just found a pub serving heaggis in the middle of a desert canyon? Truly, it can't get any weirder than that, so scartch that?" My inner editor might be starting to furiously nod his shaggy head at that point in an attempt to lure me back to the beginning of the whole dilemma. However, why would I want to miss out on the pure insanity of a confident desert warrior strutting into a pub with a pinewood bar demanding a bowl of haeggis from the rotund bar keeper? The sheer hilarity of that image was worth the detour. And that's what I discovered brackets are there for. Just bench the part that doesn't fit and go with the flow while your inner editor can keep bitching within the confines of the jailed passage.

So have you ever had a craving for haggis in the middle of a desert? Or what do you usually do when you are faced with a nasty case of writer's block or editoritis?