Some call it writer's block, I'm calling it writer's cramp.
When I arose this morning I was ready to write. It made me think I'd worked through my latest writer's cramp.
When I've thought of the term writer's block, I've always had the picture of someone sitting in front of a blank screen needing to write something and having no ideas or inspiration. I guess I could say I've felt that now and then.
A writer's cramp, on the other hand, is more frightening. For me, it might set in while I'm sitting there doing what I must do--web surfing and collecting ideas I'll put into a fodder folder. My eyes become blurry, my neck begins to ache, and my self-talk begins to get negative to the point I can no longer carry on.
With no writer's cramp, I'll go to the fodder folder, review the ideas, and start writing on one of them. Don't worry, this isn't about plagiarism. The material in my fodder folder acts as starter fuel. I'll use it to start on a topic, and before long, my mind spews out fresh new ideas.
With a writer's cramp, I'll look through my fodder folder and have zero inspiration. Not only that, my head may start to hurt. With writer's cramp I simply can't write. Worse than that, I don't want to write. I want to give up the notion and run away.
One of the perks of being a freelance writer today is I can do both research and writing without ever leaving home. It is a good era for writers (especially introverts or lazy types).
Unfortunately, though, most of us also spend a fair amount of free time on our computer for entertainment. So we end up sitting for enormous amounts of time, in the same chair, in front of the same screen. When we reach a point of wanting to flee our computer, we know writer's cramp has set in.
Worse, when I suffer from writer's cramp, I'm not only unable to write, I want to quit the profession altogether. With writer's cramp, I'm tempted to run out and find what appears from my standpoint to be a real job, with real pay, and real people to interact with.
So I'll usually go on a rampage, searching the job boards, and applying for jobs.
Writer's cramp can be painful because what we thought we once loved, we suddenly despise. We get brain freeze from too many words, grammar rules, and we never want to edit a single thing again! Worry about slow sales sets in, and doubt about the career grows.
If you were to ask me if I create a plan or put myself on a writing schedule, I'd probably tell you I don't. Much as a runner with a leg cramp can't run, a writer with writer's cramp can't write. And we never really can predict when we will become cramped. Schedule or no schedule, it's not only mentally unhealthy to work with a cramp, it may be impossible.
I don't like really long blog posts, so I'm going to end this one here. Stay tuned for a continuation where I'll let you know how I work through writer's cramps.