Monday, November 29, 2010

What are the things that make you panic on the page?

I don’t know about you other writers out there in writerdom, but occasionally, for me, the idea of sitting down and getting to work is absolutely terrifying. I will think of any excuse to avoid writing. I have to work… in nineteen hours. I have to do laundry, go to the store, I’m out of ideas, my back hurts, this book is really good so I’ll just read another few pages and it takes place during the time I’m writing about so it’s for research really, I have to knit and listen to an audio book (delicious indulgence by the way), I have to check cows, floss my teeth, go chop firewood for 2012 wood, etc, etc, etc. And all of it, and I mean all of it, is purely an excuse to avoid that gut-churning, jaw clenching, head-cracking fear of a blank page.

I don’t admit this often. I’m not a person who likes to indulge in fear, even though so much of my daily life, a la my family, is little but an exercise in an existence that disguises our thinly veiled fears. What if we lose the farm? What if something dies? What if the coffeepot/tractor/truck/etc breaks? What if we actually have to make a decision or the economy collapses? So writing and reading, I suppose, have long been my escapes from this. So when Ye Big Ol Blank Page seems an enemy too, life gets interesting.
I mean I have ideas, too many most days, and various projects I’m working on, so that’s not the problem. When I do cardio, I often have to stop and jot ideas, lines, fragments of dialogue or description down. When I’m at work, I suddenly have these great lines in my head and write them on the notepad feature on my phone. I try to start from those notes in the morning, but they seem uninspired by dawn’s early coffee, so I leave them until I can be more impartial, and try to make new words. Instead, I end up searching for more audio-books to borrow from my local library. And when I open a project, I stare at the last thing I wrote and my stomach churns in panic.

So I’m asking you to weigh in. How do you deal with panic on the page? (I’m expecting something like “suck it up, Ax,” but perhaps you’ll be more kind than I anticipate.) And how do you discipline your writing, well, discipline, when even a farmer’s work ethic seems to be defying you?