Rat Bastard


I have started writing this goddamn blog at least a dozen times. Each time I start throwing words on the screen I manage to make it a little further, hate it a little less, but it doesn’t really hold. In the end I stop, sigh, and delete.

Write. Stop. Sigh. Delete.
Write. Stop. Sigh. Delete.
Write. Stop… actually, this isn’t too – nope. It sucks. Sigh. Delete.
Write. Stop. Sigh. Delete.

I fall into these ruts more often than I like. I always have a torrent of ideas racing through my mind, and each one shows an ever-fleeting glimmer of true promise. Every once in a while I get lucky and a few of the better ideas flow freely to my fingers, and ultimately to the screen (or paper, or blood-scrawled wall scribbles). More often than not, though, these thoughts wind up crashing against the razor-sharp rocks to flounder and die.

Such is writer’s block.

Writer’s block is a particularly unsavory rat bastard who always seems to rear his rat bastard head whenever you feel yourself starting to find your groove. You flip open your laptop to write, and the rat bastard is waiting to tell you how every single letter you jot down is an affront to the English language. You go through your old work to try and recapture the spark that fueled you, and the rat bastard is there to point out how ghastly it all is. You close your laptop and grab a book, hoping to lose yourself in someone else’s story and maybe find inspiration, and that snide rat bastard is there to remind you that, hey, they’re better than you.

So I go back to my laptop and open a new document. A fresh, empty canvas for me to throw whatever I damn well please at it. I sit, and I crack my neck… and I wait… and I stare… and nothing is there. I try to will myself to write about something, anything, but alas nothing is there. It’s just me, and Writer’s Block, and the that goddamn insertion point flashing against the page.

Blinking at me.

Mocking me.

They’re both rat bastards.

I had been thinking about the rat bastard a lot of late when I started skimming through Chuck Wendig’s “500 Ways to Be a Better Writer.” It’s one of many (many, many, many, many) books he’s published chock full of tips, tricks, advice, and mental hackery that, more often than not, have helped pull me to dry land whenever I’ve found myself waist-deep in the much. I was reading through his list of “25 Ways to Defeat Writer’s Block,” and right away I found the answer: Write Through It.

So that’s what I’ve been doing. I’ve written essays. I’ve written reviews. I’ve written short stories and flash fiction and three chapters of a novel.

And you’ll never see any of it. Well, not in their current forms, anyways.

I’m pushing through the much and the mire and the bogs and the wastes and the shit-soup of self-doubt, and the more I wade through the murk the easier it has become. Along the way I found myself throwing up verbs and nouns that actually turned into pretty cool ideas – cool enough for me to jot down in my pen & paper notebook. In fact these are probably ideas I would’ve never come up with if I hadn’t sat the fuck down and forced myself to throw shit at the wall.

In a roundabout way I guess the rat bastard was good for something after all.

One of the tricky things about writing is that once you step off the bike for a day, or a week, or a month, it’s hard to jump back on. When you do, there will be bumps. You’ll weeble and wobble, and you may even fall down once or twice as you regain your balance. But once you’re back on and pedaling again, it’ll all come back to you.

Not a moment too soon, either! After all, I have a video game to write.