Today, Paperback Writer has an interesting post (and comment thread) on the related topics of writer’s block and hypergraphia (Paperback Writer: Stalled and Driven). This reminded me of my all-time worst experience with writer’s block.
A few years ago, I wrote a short story (“All Change”) for a Writer’s BBS challenge. One of the other participants, a guy with some experience writing screenplays, gushed that I should be writing screenplays. If I wanted to turn “All Change” into a screenplay, he’d be happy to collaborate with me.
What the hell, thought I. If nothing else, I might learn a thing or two about writing screenplays. I agreed to the collaboration and before long we were emailing each other back and forth something furious.
Things went well at first. As long as we stuck to brainstorming, we got along fine, but when it came to the writing itself we snagged on every line. I wanted to scream at him at least two or three times a day, and I don’t doubt that he felt the same way about me. After several weeks of this hell, we parted sort-of amicably.
A week later, he wrote to tell me that our collaboration had fired up his creative juices and he was writing faster and better than he ever had before. My wife, disappointed that this partnership had fallen through (greed had pickled her brain), decided she would finish the screenplay. She did, too. It still exists in Rough Draft Space on our hard drive, and one of these days I suppose she or I will take another look at it.
So . . . my erstwhile partner is writing faster and better than ever, and my wife is chugging away on the screenplay, and I’m blocked. Even thinking about writing made me vaguely nauseated.
I broke the block the way I usually break my blocks: flash fiction. Can’t remember what I wrote, but I slammed through 1000 words of something, and after that I was all better. As for “All Change,” it became my first print publication (“The Gorjun is Free,” in Continuum). I still think it’s a way cool story, but don’t expect to see it in theaters any time soon.