A Hearty Dose of Jane Austen Ex-Lax

So, here’s what happened. I think I may have found an editor for my novel.  I am thrilled. Based on initial plans, she thinks she can take it January. This also wraps up very nicely, because in February I go to conference, where there will be agents available to hear pitches and potentially take manuscripts.

So, naturally, I want to get the manuscript all spruced up and ready for editing.  The problem is, that I can’t. I really can’t. I’ve been avoiding this for about a month. The file is all formatted and ready for my edits. But I can’t bring myself to do it.

I put it neatly on my desktop,  then I come in for my office hours, and look at the icon. I drag the cursor across the screen, and I click on…something else. An hour later, I open the file, and stare at the title page. Then I get up and make coffee. And then I come back and stare at the title page some more. Then, I check my e-mail and notice that one of my favorite magazines is running a sale on tablet subscriptions. Realizing that I actually do have a tablet now, I decide I should subscribe. I go find my debit card, subscribe, and download my first issue.

I read the first two articles, and then realize they are written by a guy I went to college with who is a wildly more successful writer than I am. I think mean thoughts about him. Then I immediately repent, lest God hear me and dry up all my words in wrath. Also, if the building exploded in the next ten seconds due to random accident, I would definitely go to hell for unrepentant jealous thoughts about Adam White at Futurist Magazine. I pray nice prayers for Adam and close out the magazine app.

I shake my head of Adam White, and turn to stare at the novel title page again. Then I come up with a great poem and spend the next half hour working on it. Then I realize my office hours are over, and I close up and call it a day.

It’s not that I don’t want to edit this manuscript. I do. I do so badly. But I’m blocked. And that’s the problem. Because there’s no such thing as writer’s block. Every bit of professional knowledge I have swears that it’s a cop out. There’s not some sort of magical Jane Austen Ex-Lax that can cut through your mental constipation and clear it all right up nice and dandy and make your writing as shiny and pretty as Mr. Darcy’s silver cuff-links. We writers should be so lucky.

What we call writer’s block is actually a symptom of a number of other factors…things like unclear or unrealistic project goals, loss of vision, lack of material or creative stimuli, or just working too hard.

To cure writer’s block, you have to get to the bottom of what’s causing the blockage and fix the problem there. I know this. I do. I even wrote an article on overcoming writer’s block. But, I just can’t practice it. And the worst part of writer’s block, is not that I’m not creative.

It’s actually quite the contrary. I have spent so much energy trying to force up the creative juices, that I created something of a creative reservoir, dammed up only by this defunct project. When I turn to work on another project…WHOOSH…the pent up creativity comes rushing out like a mighty river. In twenty four hours, I wrote five poems, three blog posts, a short paid article, and did an art project. But I still can’t edit that damn book!

For that, I’m definitely going to need that Jane Austen Ex-Lax.



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