Thursday, May 5, 2011

Experiencing Writer's Block? Every Writer Does Sometimes

Do you suffer from "page fright"? Neill D. Hicks guest-blogs about writer's block, in an entry entitled: White Out.



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Writing is the most frightening profession you can undertake. Oh, sure, rescuing a kitten from a burning building, or topping off a skyscraper, or plunking down a few mil on the latest IPO may cause you to catch your breath once or twice, but writing is really terrifying.

At least with the kitten, the skyscraper and the IPO, you'll know you have an obvious, unmistakable success or failure. Writing is always uncertain. Even at its best, it never quite matches that Precious Vision that began the process. The product is always in some respect a compromise. The accommodations you've had to make with that precious vision may actually produce a superior work, but the written page will never be the air castle it was before craft objectified it on the page.

Every time you face the blank page, the potential for failure is enormously high, perhaps even inevitable. We're not talking about a popular or economic nonstarter here, but real personal deficiency, the kind of naked truth that jerks you awake in a cold sweat at night. We're talking about "I'm-a-fraud-and-everybody-knows-it" failure. That is what makes writing the most terrifying profession.

"White Out" is the reason would-be writers never get around to putting anything down on paper. It's also the reason that people who wouldn't dare perform their own hemorrhoid surgery are absolutely certain they can do a better job of writing -- after the original writer has knocked back the blank page to create a work of something out of a beginning of nothing.


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Something that has always stayed with me from Hicks' Screenwriting 101 is the idea that writing is most difficult for writers, and that screenwriters, in the assembly line of film production, are the only individuals who are employed with the job of creating something out of nothing.

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