A writer often is often asked: “What do you do when you are struck with Writer's Block?”
You know, that dreaded experience of trying to get the next project off the ground, but find yourself staring at the screen or notepad for hours because the words, story ideas or subject matter are nowhere in sight. Finding any inspiring idea just seems like trying to hunt and trap an extinct mythical creature that can no longer be caught and tamed. Frustrating!
That's your hard core definition of Writer's Block, however, believe it or not, that's somewhat rare. A 'block' also has its common variety of niggling frustrations.
How about the kind where you have your story or academic subject matter ready to put to page, depending on where your creativity is leading you, everything is all laid out in your notes or plot sketches, you have all the information you could ever want, but you still can't seem to start the thing? The first paragraph, not to mention the first page or three, is crucial because you know that's your opportunity to catch your reader's attention. You hope you nail it … but.....you could botch the whole thing and turn your reader off forever.
This expectation of making a good first impression can weigh a writer down, literately block them from starting because nothing sounds and feels right when you type or write it out, and then the anxiety sets in that convinces you're a hopeless mess-up, which makes it worse. Nothing seems to 'gel' together, so I will metaphorically call his icky place the dark paralysing world of “Writer's Anti-Gel”.
When starting the first chapter, of “Faust: My Soul Be Damned for the World, Vol.1”, guess who literally sat for two days a good half of the third staring at a blank screen coaxing the creative muse to appear with loads of coffee and chocolate until FINALLY the first introductory paragraphs 'gelled' into place. (And no, I wasn't goofing on the Internet, I wasn't connected at the time.)
Writers will tell you just hammer something out and then edit the crud out of it later: you won't get anywhere unless you force yourself to write and get a first draft together, because if you wait for inspiration, it'll take half a lifetime before you get a book together.
Yes, there is truth to that, I do hammer things out be it good or bad once I get into the actual draft and there's something to build on and then edit, but the first paragraphs, (and okay, I'll admit, a good portion of my texts), I like to make sure it sounds perfect in my head and I'll keep editing it as I write instead of just writing away without polishing as I go, so of course, I get stuck in the parallel non-creative gloopy gloopity glop slow-paced dimension that is “Writer's Anti-Gel” until it finally gels in the right direction.
The thing is, the last paragraphs and closing segments are just as tricky in their own way as the first. “Faust” is a historical academic epic so to speak, so naturally the end of the chapter has its own unique requirements. I needed a satisfying conclusion that gels in a way so it's not rambling but not abrupt either, something that makes a lasting impression regarding the vast amount of information just presented and that rounds the whole thing off just nicely in a page, preferably less, maybe with a memorable kick.
Well, when I was nearing the end of that first chapter I got stuck in the non-gelling “anti-gel” universe again. When you're writing about how a real historical individual may have sold his soul to the devil for knowledge, power and worldly glory, and you want to round off this gruesome history 'quite nicely' with a 'memorable kick', that's a tall order!
Of course, I knew I was going to be staring at the screen for days on end with this doozie, but rather than succumbing to staring and wasting time moaning in the Realm of Anti-Gel, or hammering out just anything until it was squished and prodded into place and still feeling like a product that was way below par even for a draft, I did what any desperate writer does ….
No, I'm not kidding.
I thought of my Guardian Angel, who often gets ignored even though I know he's there.
We never think of our invisible guardians enough or ask their assistance, even with our daily tasks. They don't just guard us from temptation and danger, they like us to involve them in our lives. They take a keen interest in everything we do and they like helping us in our work, (as long as it's not sinful of course!)
So, I reached out to my neglected princely friend and told him what was needed to finish my first chapter and asked if he could enlighten me with an idea, maybe let me know how to polish it off ....
No sooner was the request made when the words started to interiorly flow so quickly like a bubblingcascade it was like I was taking speed dictation. I was literally yelling in my head 'Not so fast! Not so fast!', my fingers tapping away trying to capture that miraculous flow as the text rolled out right to the very end...then, stopped.
This was so different from the 'running flash' of inspiration to where you don't want to stop writing because you're on a roll. I've had that too quite a few times, but when those 'running flashes' happen, it still feel like it's you and your ideas. This wasn't exactly like that. It was really was as if “someone else” was interiorly dropping the words and I was doing my best to keep up with their pace. Prayer answered!
Here it is, the final paragraph to the first chapter of “Faust: My Soul be Damned for the World Volume I”, which I cannot take credit for. I give it fully to my Guardian Angel:
“Faustus, who embraced evil and shunned righteousness, became the foremost symbol of the misuse of free will, that sublime gift from God with its inherent opportunity to choose virtue and reject iniquity. “What shall a man gain if he has the whole world and lose his soul,” (Matt. 16: v. 26) - but for a notorious name, the ethereal shadow of a career, and a brief life of fleeting pleasure with no true peace? This was the blackest and most captivating tragedy of all, few could have remained indifferent to the growing intrigue of this individual who apparently shook hands with the devil and freely chose to descend to the molten, sulphuric chasm of Hell for all eternity for so little in exchange. It is a drama that continues to fascinate today as powerfully as when Faustus first disseminated his infamous card in the Heidelberg locale to the scandal of his generation. In fine, a life of good or evil, the hope of Heaven or the despair of Hell, Faustus stands as a reminder that the choice between these two absolutes also falls to us.”