Sunday, January 22, 2012

Writer's Block and Jack Kerouac

I'm feeling like Jack Kerouac did on this date in 1948, when he wrote in his journal:
Tried to write and wrote nothing at all, what I wrote was crossed out. This is one of the worst ones yet, especially after all I've written.*
On January 15 I opined about writer's block and pondered trying some "free writing" to get things going. I just haven't made myself do it.

I have read that Jack never suffered from writer's block (e.g., in this article), but I think his own words above pretty much defeat that argument. I guess it depends on how you define writer's block. Is it the inability to write anything, or to write anything you deem "good"?

I think I more-or-less agree with the Cape Cod Daily's opinion that writer's block is an invention used as an excuse for hard work. It's much easier to say "I have writer's block" and go out and split firewood (which is on my list of things to do today) than to sit at the keyboard and slug along (which I am doing right now despite the firewood waiting impatiently).

I've never had too much trouble writing "something," but I often stop myself short of trying because I don't have any seemingly acceptable ideas for content. Which brings me back to free writing, I suppose, as a work-around. I could also look to Jack's "Belief & Technique for Modern Prose: List of Essentials." Or his "Essentials of Spontaneous Prose."

So, I think what I will do is post this entry, satisfied that I wrote and posted something today, and then go out and split firewood. When I come back in, my plan is to "free write" for 10 minutes (unless my fingers freeze off, which is quite likely).

Remember, it's just a plan, not words carved on stone and come down a mountain in a blaze of fire.

*From Douglas Brinkley's Jack Kerouac: Windblown World, 2004, p. 46. This book, along with Gerald Nicosia's Memory Babe: A Critical Biography of Jack Kerouac, is one I reference frequently when looking into Jack's life and times.

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