Wow. I’m just getting over a 3-year writer’s block and think I understand why it happened. People tend to think of writer’s block as having a single cause, and maybe so did I, once. However, to quote a gloriously all-encompassing word from my doctor, the cause is multi-factorial. I think I’ll write about each factor separately in future Thursday blog posts, because they’re all real, and maybe you—a sometimes frustrated writer—will recognise some of them. And I won’t write much because the book comes first.
I’ve analysed the problem to death, because as the above photo demonstrates, I’ve had no trouble writing books in the past. I’ve been published by major houses like Penguin, Random (now one), Harper Collins and Pearson Education and small houses like Ten Speed Press (extinct, sigh) and by my own self. Not to say I’m a major author or an international success, but hey, for a writer I’ve done fine.
Then I started a book with about 50 working titles—currently, Live Long And Like It: A boot camp for the bonus years. Yep, about my one-year self-imposed solitary life audit and revamp to get myself in shape for those extra years at the end of life, the years I hadn’t expected.
So why have I spent the last four years dithering over how to approach this book, even whether to write it at all? Why have I started three times and abandoned it? Now that I’m finally on a roll, I do see at least 10 factors that have been problematic.
- Privacy. My boot camp was personal: at the time I hadn’t imagined it would be useful for others.
- Type of book. The book might turn into a self-help book, which holds many dangers such as being bossy and being smug.
- Selfishness. Self-help books are for the privileged, a self-indulgent form.
- Narrowness. Self-help books ignore powerful social forces that oppress the majority of people.
- Ignorance. I have no expertise in aging, exercise, health, happiness, meditation, housing, finance or psychology: who am I to write such a book?
- Redundancy. The world has too many books about positive ageing, successful ageing etc.
- Technology crisis. Old hardware, new technology, incompatibility, where to turn?
- Bloody Word. Ominous jumps in Styles, just when I had it licked.
- Old age. Everything takes longer now that I am 79. Not old old, not frail old, but not young.
- Short term memory. Just imagine!
If you are battling Writer’s Block, OK, finally I get it. Using myself as my own lab rat (to quote Doris Carnevali there from Engaging With Aging), I’ll unpick these issues in future Thursday articles.