If there is such a thing as a lazy writer, I guess it may be me. When I finally come up with a plot idea, I crank out more than 1000 words a day. However, once I finish a manuscript I usually go through a period of procrastination which sometimes goes on for months. In his book, Writer’s Block: The Cognitive Dimension (1984), Mike Rose defined it as: “a condition, primarily associated with writing, in which an author loses the ability to produce new work or experiences a creative slowdown. This loss of ability to write and produce new work is not a result of commitment problems or the lack of writing skills. The condition ranges from difficulty in coming up with original ideas to being unable to produce a work for years. Writer’s block is not solely measured by time passing without writing. It is measured by time passing without productivity in the task at hand.”
I find that the condition is strengthened by life. I’ve always said: “Life gets in the way of living.” There is always something to take my attention away from dealing with the condition. I take the path of least resistance, the internet. I often spend hours perusing the net seeking topics that interest me, but have little if anything to do with writing. I have found something that takes me out of my self-induced funk–Skipper and Ginger. Who are these people? My Yorkies. When I want to think and get away from distractions I walk them. In Stockholm, the town has created a walking path that meanders through the woods along the Madawaska River. In this environment I find that I do some serious thinking. On several occasions I’ve had an epiphany–an idea for a plot.
I’ve always had a soft place in my heart for dogs (In fact I prefer them to kids–eventually
kids become teenagers and turn on you.) A dog gives you unconditional love and all they ask in return is food, water, and possibly a daily walk. There is however a down side . . . Before Skipper & Ginger, there was a five pound Maltese named Maggie. In January of 2018, Maggie was 17 years old. She had become deaf, blind, and spent all of her time lying in her bed. Jane and I made the tough decision of having her put down. Jane had gotten her as an eight-week-old puppy and for many years it was the two of them against the world. They went everywhere together–everywhere, including the bathtub, kayaking on the Androscoggin River, and riding Harley motorcycles. After Jane and I started our relationship, Jane spent two weeks in
Florida. Maggie flew with her (she whined being cooped up in the carrier and Jane got permission to let her sit in the empty seat next to her. Making the decision to put her down was possibly the hardest decision Jane ever made. (It wasn’t easy on me either . . . When I lived in Chicago my wife had our dog put down and I was in my office crying like a baby. My wife said to my daughter, “I don’t understand this, he didn’t cry when his mother died. My daughter answered: “Mom, he liked the dog.”) On January 30, 2018 Maggie left us. On January 31, 2018 Skipper joined us and in August along came Ginger.
Getting back to the topic of this blog . . . what does all this dog stuff have to do with writer’s block? When I walk the dogs I become mentally isolated from all the extraneous B. S. that we all deal with on a daily basis. As we are walking, there isn’t a time that I don’t
think about my late mother-in-law. When she wanted to describe someone who was being treated badly she’d say they were treated like a dog–not mine. I’d love to have their life. As we walk I find my mind roaming from subject to subject and voila my muse kicks in. To show you how this works, I’m writing this on Tuesday, November 3 and it will publish on November 6. For several weeks I’ve been wracking my brain for a topic to write about. This morning as I walked the dogs I got the inspiration to write this.
I have recently started a new novel, a follow up to my novel, Wendigo, and have hit that saggy middle. Where do I go from here? I’ll figure that out on our afternoon walk through the woods.