Writer’s Block: Damning the Reservoir

Posted: July 27, 2009 in 1

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Writing is a continuing expression of living experience.


Writing, like any art or passion, exists as a human expression.  It is a function of living experience before it is an economic commodity.

The problem is when survival takes precedence over aesthetics.

Writing fails as a livelihood for many reasons:  the learning curve, the industrial lag for payment, the market conditions that very simply favor the reader, not the writer.  There are far many more writers than necessary.  The ensuing market glut may assure readers of a vast reservoir of worthwhile reading, but it does little to assure the born writer a living from this work.

So then it’s only natural that the writer look elsewhere for a living.

What happens then, at least to me, is that one’s writing falls off.  It’s less of a priority.  An already difficult and challenging exercise is easily avoided.  Books are shelved, ideas are packed away, worlds crumble to dust.

But when writers avoid their own work, interest in the work of others wanes too.  It’s  a spiraling decline away from the passion.

But when you do have a job and you do support yourself, writing is then free to be what it wants to be.  It is no longer an economic commodity, but a function of living experience.  Passion returns.  Passion, time, and joy can create a work worthy of reading.

Excellence is the only commodity worth dealing in.  Rather than the “maximum price minimum-service” model of commodity art, excellence promotes a natural interest from the public.

Convention then gravitates around that creation.  Not the other way around.

So, if you’re a writer like me, support yourself by some means, and let your writing be whatever it is.  But do dig into it on a regular basis.  Just because it’s self-employment doesn’t mean you can have every day off.

And play with the story.  Mix it up.  Take charge of the creating.  Don’t let the idea of perfection stay your hand.  After all, art is expression – not perfection.  Play, and the page will be codified into a work of art in an of itself.  There’s an effect the author misses – the effect of experiencing the work for the first time.  This “surprise” effect adds value to the work, which is quite difficult to see as author.  So just express and let the rest take care of itself.

Do yourself a favor:  write the stories for their own sake.  Don’t sweat writing as a career.  Get yourself another livelihood, and let the writing exist as it is, without judgment, without critical context.  Writing becomes a viable career after it is earning money – not before.  So earning from writing is an entirely moot point.  Remove it from the equation, open your page, and get to work.  The advantage of a living experience is that its rewards exceed its public appreciation.

In time, just as living an active lifestyle leads to a fit body, the work transforms into – a commodity worth having.

In martial arts, the way to life is to embrace death – to meet the encounter prepared to sacrifice your life. Those who protect their lives will fail. Those who commit their bodies, succeed. Writing is the same. In order to be a commercial success, give up the desire for commercial success.

Aim for commodity and fail.  Aim for craft and succeed.  Remove time and money from the equation.  Create a lifestyle, and that is the only success that will ever matter.