I remember reading about this phenomenon. Naturally, since I have always been such a physical creature, concepts such as writer’s block and many other psychological dilemma’s were remote and fairly inappropriate to my situations, historically. They occupied zones where I had to intuit the ramifications from a very un-felt perspective. I mean, I had my own fair share of defects, just not this one.
Then I largely shut down the landscaping end of my life and began devoting more time to writing. The move to Louisville also halted my participation in softball – another sea change for me. Some of this was enforced by economics and some enforced by a newly-embraced sense of opportunity. I re-commenced this blog, began other blogs for other people, wrote entries for others on a piece basis, per word, and even set up commercial blogs, advertising wares which could be purchased online. I began writing at a feverish pitch, in fact. I did have issues with time-consumption and delayed gratifications of much of it, but I was ambitious enough at the time to enforce my will upon myself and “do the work”. I could spend 10 hours in front of this computer, easily, typing the entire time.
As a new writer, there was quite a bit of excitement surrounding the deal. “Look, Ma!! I’m a writer now!!” rang through my neural pathways as I undertook programming to make me sit still for longer periods of time. I found out how important the chair is I that sit in. I also found out how vital it can be to plain “get away” and do something before an entire contra-healthy day passes and my muscles begin to atrophy. I learned quite a bit.
But I was sanguine enough about my abilities. I did indeed find myself getting better at the more important aspects of the writing thing. Hell, a browse through my blog here illustrates all that perfectly. I think I have advanced as a writer and I believe it shows in this very blog.
And now I’ve begun to write a book – I went that nutzo over it all – and therein lies the rub. As I undertook the process, I paid attention to the advice of those who preceded me – writers, agents and friends with similar interests. As I continued, I began believing in them and increasingly finding myself comparing myself to their own works. I read some books with an eye towards integrating their best qualities into my own style. I eventually became fairly intimidated. The sheer numbers of writers these days is off the charts.
But what is worse are how incredibly good so many of them are at something I only recently discovered. This theme is the big Bandit of Spirit in this drama. I have found myself in a true identity crisis, wondering what on Earth allows me to assume I have anything to say outside of what I know so well – being a “dirt farmer” – as my Portland buddy used to put it.
Don’t cry for me yet. The mere fact that I am writing all this now is proof that I am finding my way through the purely psychological “crisis”. But all this has acted to limit my enthusiasm to what I was enthusiastic over not mere months ago. I have ignored friends and become somewhat of a hermit, although I have made a bazillion trips down to Owensboro to interview the subject of my book . So, even when I was slumping, I was still producing data at least.
I have also heard from first hand sources how common all this can be. The advent of any project can be intimidating. I know this from landscaping – we take small islands at a time and render them finished on our way to the Whole Dang Continent. Many has been the time I have looked at a landscaping project worth $100,000 or more and wondered how on Earth I would ever complete it successfully.