Wednesday, February 3, 2010

"Writer's Logjam" - Worse than a "block" in many ways

I have a case of "Writer's logjam." At first, I thought I was lucky and clever enough to coin the term on my own, but I guess it's no surprise that at least one person has used the term and gives a pretty good description of what I'm dealing with at the moment:

This is really interesting because here, a person doesn't have enough ideas, they have way too many.

They start on one, go to another, and another, nothing gets ever finished and all those unfinished projects pile up and cause a logjam - and nothing moves at all any longer.

Not knowing that this is so, writers will DESPERATELY try to get MORE AND MORE ideas, thinking they've run out, and that makes the logjam ever worse until not a trickle gets through the dam any longer and we really have now absolute writer's block.

The solution for this is to take any one of THE OLD PROJECTS at the base of the logjam and to FINISH IT.

Obviously, I'm writing here, so you might be thinking "what's the big deal?"

The big deal is that I should be writing something on the other blog - the one I do as part of my job.

But I have a problem. Last week included disrupted sleep patterns and time off so I could catch up with housework left undone while returning from the trip to Connecticut. Monday involved more disrupted sleep and then a sick day yesterday.

In the course of a week, at least four big things have come up related to my NDY work. I am full of ideas about how to write about each and every one of them. They are all important. And they are all currently tangled up in my head as I try to sort them out and figure out where to even start. And, of course, if I don't write anything today, my dilemma will be even worse tomorrow.

It suddenly occurred to me that one way to get something accomplished was to write about the current struggle here on this blog. That way, at least I'm writing again and not just obsessing about what I'm not writing.

The best case scenario is that this will somehow unstick my mental gears (alert: switching metaphors here) and I can get started on my other tasks.

The worst case scenario is that whatever I write here will be all I write today. But at least that will be better than the alternative.

This is far from the first time I've been in this situation. I know it won't be the last.

If anyone has any ideas for getting through these logjams (alert: back to original metaphor), I'd be open to hearing them.

I still have an hour or two left in the day. Maybe I can do better than just stare at the screen - I know that would make tomorrow easier. --Stephen


Adelaide Dupont said...

On the top of the pile, or on the bottom of the pile?

I think we think up 10,000 new ideas every day. We probably only verbalise about 10 of those ideas and write about 1 or 2 of them.

sanda said...

I am a sculptor, visual artist. I like reading your "nuts and bolts" on this site, finding similarities.
As a person with CFS/ME, I relate to the sleep problems and others you mention.

Because I am not a "real" writer, I feel more comfortable with the writing I do. (I hope to do a blog about making art if/when I am some better in re disability and have some extra stamina and also when I learn enough to post my art online in a direct way, such as photos from my camera into my computer.) My writing about art and my life often reads like several ideas toppling over each other.

I enjoy going back and forth between NDY and here. It/they work apart and together.

Stephen Drake said...


I'm not a "real" writer, either. Most of what I write is real task-oriented, with the modest goal of making it coherent, relevant and readable.


With me, it's not just the problem with the ideas themselves, but how they intertwine. I have to "unpack" them - the lucky few that get written - to prune the associated articles, thoughts, concepts, etc. down to where it's a narrative that people can follow. ;-)