Uncertainty Principles: Reaching Beyond the Barriers
Writing is the act of stringing one word after another in a way that makes some sort of sense. Sometimes, however, the act can feel like a struggle. And you face the Wall. People call it all sorts of things, but, ultimately, I think it comes down to outside distractions seeping into your brain or your uncertainty of how people are going to react to whatever you’re working on.
We’ve likely been in one or both of those places. If you’re facing a deadline, you can even fall into the death spiral where the more you need to get things done, the harder it is to get it done because you’re not focusing on the thing, you’re instead focusing on the thing about the thing. It’s kinda like needing to get to sleep to do something tomorrow and as the clock ticks away you realize you can’t sleep and you think about sleep. In short, you’ve created a self-fulfilling prophecy.
The thing is to embrace uncertainty. You can be certain if you never do a thing that you’ll never know how it’s going to be. And you shouldn’t fight blocking out the outside world, incorporate it into your prose for a moment or your stream of words and make your peace with it. If something’s got you down or stressed, devote a few words to it, use it for your own purposes. Just get off an annoying call or have a flat tire or some other chaos is throwing a wrench into the works? Write it off. Let your warmup routine address those things and soon you’ll get it out of your system and be back on the track to what you want to write/what you need to write.
And walls are just plain silly. If you’re working on a work of any length, there is certainly some facet where your mind is going. You might think you need to get the plot all plotted out or finish the first scene or whatever, the thing is your mind sometimes takes over and you’re thinking about the bearded man in the second scene with the fiery eyes and the polka-dotted top hat. Go there for a few. Give him some attention. Get that character out of your system, and then you can resume the words you need to get out.
Don’t get discouraged. Don’t get down. Find your story. Find your voice. Believe it or not, most things are not done as we perceive them. Movies are generally not filmed in the order you perceive them. And stuff you read (and, often, stuff I write) is done in all sorts of crazy order. But the words get done. Things get finished. And you get to consume them in a nice chronological, orderly way. We all make order out of chaos, but sometimes the creative process is more like a jigsaw puzzle than connecting the dots. You grab the pieces you think fit, try ’em out, and move on to the next one as the picture begins to form.
Keep this in mind the next time you get creative. And get creative.
Until next time, I bid you, dear reader, adieu!