Busting Blocks

I’ve been suffering from a bit of writer’s block this week. Ironically, I just finished reading Stephen King’s On Writing, the book he started writing about the craft of writing in the late 1990s and only picked up and finished in the earlier part of 2000s when he was working through his own case of writer’s block while he was recovering from the injuries he sustained when he was hit by a van while walking on a country road near his summer home in Maine.

His advice on writer’s block is to keep writing, but move on to something else. He did it with a number of his novels, including The Stand.

It seemed to work for a certain insurance salesman with an interest in naval history. He was 400 pages into his first novel and hadn’t worked on it for ages when news of an accident  with a Russian nuclear submarine off the coast of Newfoundland inspired him to set aside his first novel and start another work. The insurance salesman was Tom Clancy and the novel was the Hunt for Red October. You know, the one they made into a movie with Sean Connery speaking Russian with a Scottish accent.

Yes, again with the Scots.

His advice may work for novelists who can always put one idea aside and explore the next one they have until they either finish the work and get published or give up entirely and re-dedicate themselves to their day jobs. Even though I wrote about taking advice last week, I’m not sure it really applies to bloggers.

Here’s my reasoning: We bloggers tend to serve niche markets. Novels are broadcast. Blogs are narrowcast. For those who have been with me since the beginning, you’ve seen this blog evolve from my rumination on my weight loss journey to a broader focus on living an active, healthy lifestyle. If I take a week or two off, would you miss me? Probably not. As awesome as I think I am, I know there’s competition for your attention. There’s only a couple million lifestyle blogs on WordPress alone. That’s why I retweet the blog daily, to get your attention if you didn’t read it on Friday.

That, and I’m a bit of a stats whore. It’s affirmation in the form of page views.

Oh crap, I’m writing psychobabble. I DO have writer’s block.

Remember, I’m from that transitional generation when therapy was mowing the lawn while crying and teachers sent problem kids to the principal, not the doctor. When my elementary school was renovated, they built a nurse’s station but didn’t have the money to hire a nurse. They were planning to, though.

As an aside, the school district spent Lord knows how much in late 1980s dollars to put a computer lab in my junior high school only to not budget for the actual computer paper. In the two years I went to MacLennan Junior High before moving to New Brunswick, I saw the inside of that room no more than six times.   It would mostly be used as a holding pen for us students who had achieved 85% or more in our courses, thus gaining accreditation without the requirement of writing final exams but with the requirement of attending class until the exam period began. The last week of school was a marathon of Settlers Trail, or whatever that game based on the Donner Party was called

Bloggers can’t really switch topics, either. If I started serializing my latest attempt at writing a novel, a trashy, pulpy mashup of the Anna Chapman case with the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series, I would just cheapen the brand I’m trying to build with this blog. We can start other blogs, but means finding new readers for that blog and leaves the one with readers fallow. aka problem #1.

Thanks for the advice, Stephen. Really. I’m just going to chug along, though.

Thankfully, running always provides me with something to write about.

Sunday’s 16km LSD run was a gorgeous run along the river and around Lac Leamy. Some of the bridges along that route can be a little wobbly. When there’s a dozen runners crossing them at once, they can be downright bouncy. It was a fun run. There was a public park chalet on the side of the lake opposite the casino which made for a convenient pit stop past the mid-way point of the run. I repeated last week’s new habits of honey and salt in my water bottle and eating my energy chews. I finished the run happy, full of energy. In fact, I met up with Kalin for coffee and did some running around after lunch. I didn’t feel tired until mid-afternoon.

Tuesday was a nice 5k tempo run. My runners asked if we could go on the pathway along the river when we got to the Gatineau side, behind the Museum of Civilization. I obliged. It was pretty cold until we got to the other side of the Portage Bridge with us running into the wind until that point. There was another bouncy bridge along the trail. Every time I run across one of those with my group, the Indiana Jones theme pops in my head.

Wednesday was our second to last night of hill repeats. We did 8, but we split them between the Rideau Locks and Fleet St. I know the map is starting to look like what happens when I leave my nephews alone with my road atlas and a crayon. I liked splitting the hills, it gave some of the runners who had trouble with the steeper hills at the locks a chance to run it off a bit before tackling the last four hills. While I like doing the hills for strength training, it is boring as hell. Sure, there’s that runner’s high after it’s done, but while I’m doing it I’m almost as bored as I would be on a treadmill.

Almost. At least it’s outdoors. It was a much nicer night than Tuesday, too.

On the food front, since it’s BBQ season, I had a hankering for a salmon on a cedar plank. I made a lemon-maple-bourbon-chili glaze.  It’s pretty easy. Equal parts lemon juice, maple syrup and bourbon (I used Jim Beam) mixed with as many chili paper flakes as you can handle. Periodically coat salmon while cooking on a cedar plank. If you have never cooked on a cedar plank before, I would not recommend doing this indoors.

My word count is now reading in excess of a thousand words. Not bad for suffering writer’s block.



3 responses

  1. urbannerdrunner | Reply

    For someone who wrote a 300+ page dissertation, I’m surprised that writer’s block is even an issue.

    I’ve decided that my approach to writer’s block is no write anything really. Well that an life’s been a bit crazy that I haven’t had time to sit down and write either… or run that much either.

    Good job and kudos for the training too!!!

    1. Thanks. I didn’t think of it at the time as I writing (I did, after all, have writer’s block), but my approach to dealing with writer’s block isn’t much different than dealing with my plateaus during the weight loss: keep going until something gives. May need to try something different if it doesn’t end, but ultimately stay on course.

      1. You’d also be surprised how often in the course of that 300 page dissertation I was struck with writer’s block. First 70 pages often felt like torture. Once the boring stuff was laid out and I could concentrate on the argument, the rest of it flowed a geyser.

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