Friday, 18 April 2014

That Old Devil Called Writer's Block

As some of you may know, I started studying for a Creative Writing MA. There has been a lot of controversy lately about the validity of these courses, with writer, Hanif Kureishi, saying that Creative Writing can't be taught. Confusing since he makes money as a Creative Writing professor at Kingston University. Hmm, well. But I digress.

The main reason for posting today is that I'm testing out whether or not my claims that I have writer's block are valid or not. Can I really use writer's block as an excuse for not completing my coursework assignments for my Creative Writing course?

I've got a serious problem of not knuckling down and finishing the two 6000 word assignments. I'm in a panic because the deadline for handing them both in is looming. 7th May is etched in my brain like an albatross around my neck. I'm seriously panicking here!

I tried to put my inability to function down to the the old writer's block but here I am writing away. So what is wrong with me? I've asked several people and the consensus says that either a) I am tired, or b) I'm stressed by the task or c) both of the above. As 7th May rapidly approaches I'm leaning toward c). But what can I do about it?

How can I get my assignments done in time and with the hope of gaining all A grades? The answer I'm told is easy and within me and only me.

The advice:

1. Get Started
"One of the most difficult things is the first paragraph. I have spent many months on a first paragraph, and once I get it, the rest just comes out very easily."
(Gabriel Garcia Marquez)

2. Grasp those ideas
 "I carry a notebook with me everywhere. But that's only the first step. Ideas are easy. It's the execution of ideas that really separates the sheep from the goats."
(Sue Grafton)

3. Cope when the writing is bad
Maya Angelou
 "What I try to do is write. I may write for two weeks ‘the cat sat on the mat, that is that, not a rat.’ And it might be just the most boring and awful stuff. But I try. When I’m writing, I write. And then it’s as if the muse is convinced that I’m serious and says, 'Okay. Okay. I’ll come.'"
(Maya Angelou)

Stephen Fry4. Set up a routine
 "I have to get into a sort of zone. It has something to do with an inability to concentrate, which is the absolute bottom line of writing."
(Stephen Fry)

5. Just Write!
 "My block was due to two overlapping factors: laziness and lack of discipline."
(Mary Garden)
 "If you are a genius, you'll make your own rules, but if not--and the odds are against it--go to your desk, no matter what your mood, face the icy challenge of the paper--write."
(J. B. Priestly)

This is expert opinion. I'll read this over and over again and take action - soon.
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  1. Great post Fran - now get down and beat the devil. The quotes say it all and good luck for 7th May deadline.
    Garden of Eden Blog

  2. I'm doing it - I'm beating that old devil. 4000 words on one assignment done and about 1500 of the other! (Not that I'm counting - I'm writing). I'll get there Susan.

  3. Fran I'm so sorry I won't make the launch after all - we're off to the mountains tomorrow for the weekend back only on Tuesday (long weekend here in South Africa).
    Good luck with it and HAVE FUN! Look forward to the feedback!
    Garden of Eden Blog

  4. Hope you make your deadline, Fran. With a book launch you've every good reason to be tired. Can I offer you another take on writer's block which I vote for Emma Darwin's This Itch of Writing

  5. Thanks for this Anne and I'll take a look at this link!