I recall a newspaper reporter once stating, “In the newspaper business, writer’s block is not an option.” In his profession, deadlines must be met on a daily basis. I’ve reminded myself of his words many times, particularly during a lull in creativity. They push me forward instead of allowing me to sit staring at a blank page wondering if a creative spurt will ever come again. When it does, usually in the process of writing, I feel sincerely grateful and immensely relieved.
I wonder, too, how much of the ebb and flow of creativity is influenced by our ever-changing environment and events, and how much by genes. In my case, I believe there is a strong genetic influence, simply because of the idiosyncratic way I operate. For example:
I come from a long line a Navy men, my father included. At some point in my development, for a reason I cannot explain, I began to think of my life as a ship I had to captain through the smooth and rough waters of life; my home as a vessel to keep ship-shape. I also became compelled to document everything that happened in a given day, every day without fail, as if keeping an up-to-date log were as important as breathing, or better yet, keeping my ship afloat.
This habit has continued to the present. My daily log is not an emotional account of my feelings, but rather reads like a narrative from the long-running TV sitcom starring Jack Webb, Dragnet. His often quoted dialogue, “Just the facts, Ma’am.” would be an accurate description of my daily entries.
For a long time, I did not connect this habit with being a writer. I never re-read my entries once written and the day planners, purchased specifically for the amount of space I require to record each day, are stored away in stacks of plastic containers in an alcove in the attic. I merely thought of it as some sort of inherited obsessive-compulsive disorder that didn’t need psychiatric treatment because of its harmless nature.
I have now come to see this habit as a blessing because, whether I feel creative or not, I write something every day. It matters not that the log is as exciting as a monetary ledger. What matters is the muscle memory felt in my fingers as they move across the page. It is the practice, practice, practice known by musicians and athletes, the discipline that moves one forward when the mind is absent of imaginative thought. It is the solid foundation upon which a burst of inborn and influenced big blast of chaotic spontaneity can be constructed into a work of art.
In my case, I have a long-range plan for my mystery series. I hope the above habit will help me achieve my goal.