Blocking Writer’s Block – When Escapism Hits (Hard)

Sometimes the mind needs candy.  It just can’t bear to chew over ideas of substance; it’s too tired to wrestle with gristly debates; it doesn’t want to pick nuance from its teeth.

No sirree, what it wants are donuts.  (It’s not even up to “doughnuts”.)  And it wants them all night long.

Who knows what makes the mind revert to pablum?

(Actually, I think it’s stress, a rebellion from pressure, an internal decision not to bullied by one’s own sense of responsibility.)

During such periods, some minds, usually of the male persuasion, will watch sports  or play video games; some females will watch several seasons in one sitting of Grey’s Anatomy, even though they well understand that both McDreamy and McSteamy are McStupid, and that Meredith Grey would be more properly named “MiMi Beige.”

In my case, the reversion is to puerile, but somehow, entertaining books.  (And, of course, a certain new movie star whose name is only known to regular followers of this blog.)

I’m not quite sure what to advise when times like this arise.  I guess the most important question is—are you getting your work done?  By work, I mean your day job, your school work, your obligations to family, friends, dog, your toothbrushing and hairwashing, your eating and some minimum amount of sleep.  Hopefully, most of us can put down the mind’s donutty distraction for the hours it takes to perform the tasks that keep us in the daily life business.

But what about that creative work that we think of as a second career (or a true vocation)?

Unfortunately, it can be very hard for creative work to serve as a significant block to a donutty mindset, especially if you are not getting either money or acknowledgement for the creative work.

Luckily, the mind has some natural defenses:

  1. Boredom.  Most escapist fare does not, per se, hold an overwhelming amount of food for thought.
  2. Pride.  An OC (obsessive-compulsive) attraction to escapist fare can become really embarrassing.    It’s true that innocuous plastic book covers, and a Kindle can go a long way towards mitigating that embarrassment.  Still, when you mother keeps telling you how much she’s enjoying Cormac McCarthy while you are obsessively reading Charlaine Harris (author of The Sookie Stackhouse novels, the basis for the series, True Blood), it gets a bit much.
  3. Duty.  Trees.

While you are waiting for boredom, pride, and duty to kick in, here’s another trick:    try to find something useful in your mind candy.  Look at it from a “maker’s” point of view.  If you are interested in writing, read the dumb books with an eye for their plotting, their narrative structure, their momentum, their sex scenes (!)   (Yes, it’s all a bit of an excuse, but there can be some valuable lessons there.)

Finally try to just enjoy yourself a bit.    Be giddy, stay up late, read while you walk to and from the subway.   More importantly, get some much-needed confidence.     And don’t worry too much.   If you are truly interested in doing creative work, the angst will be back soon enough.

Explore posts in the same categories: Stress, Uncategorized, writer's block, writing

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3 Comments on “Blocking Writer’s Block – When Escapism Hits (Hard)”

  1. margaret dessau Says:

    great advice, especially at 3 am. keep amusing me.


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