[cancer|process] Writer’s block, or energy block?

I am experiencing something much akin to writer’s block these days. Which is really ticking me off.

Longtime readers will be familiar with the fact that I almost never experience writer’s block. I can be held up for a day or so on a difficult point in a story. I can be distracted by an overwhelming emotional or life experience. But I’ve never had that feeling of sitting down, staring at the screen, and sweating for the words to come. If a piece is stalled, I just work on something else. Words have always flowed like water for me. It’s been one of my gifts as a writer, perhaps one of my core gifts.

What I am going through now isn’t writer’s block in the stare-at-the-screen sense, not precisely. The words are in there. I have a novel to revise, a novel to write, a Sekrit Projekt to complete, a novella to revise, random short story ideas on almost a daily basis. They bubble, to the point now of frustrating me, a lot.

What I don’t have is energy.

Up until about the beginning of April, I was writing at a pretty good clip, even for chemotherapy. But since I completed the first draft of “The Stars Do Not Lie”, I’ve been having a hell of a time finding focus and energy to work on more. I’ve slipped in a little bit of revision on older pieces that had been languishing, and done some Writing Related Program Activities around getting stories out to market, answering interviews and whatnot. All of that is a kind of short-burst productivity I can do without extended periods of deep focus.

At this point in my chemotherapy cycle, by the time I’m done with the Day Jobbe, I’m pretty much done with the day. I’ve lost the 3-5 pm time slot I was using to write in. My sleep needs have piled up more with the accumulating fatigue, so I’ve lost the 3-5 am time slot I was also sometimes using. Basically, the world is closing in, and taking my time with it. That I lost three of my ‘free’ weekends in a row through March and April to various medical issues in my family was no help either.

My current plan is to service my deadline projects in the upcoming weekend time, and try to hammer out at least a little daytime writing. I can do a lot by sheer force of will. But I cannot do everything. Meanwhile, this damned block has got me for the first time since I’ve become a pro.

This might be the thing that pisses me off the most about chemo. That cancer and the drugs have stolen my creative time and space away from me.

4 thoughts on “[cancer|process] Writer’s block, or energy block?

  1. Tiffani says:

    Recently I went through an emotionally exhausting event–nothing as big a deal and physical as cancer/chemo–that left me unable to write for a few months. I had the want, the desire, but no energy at all to do so. Stories were there, but they just wouldn’t happen on the page. Very dear, and very smart, friends reminded me that going through what I had gone through was sucking up my energy and to give myself a break.

    Give yourself a break.

    You’ve been through a GIANT bunch of life. Give the engine some time and you’ll be back at it stronger than ever 🙂

  2. You are truly an amazing artist, having lived with medical issues most of my adult life, 17 surgeries, and working through them, I am in awe of your drive and of your use of time considering what your going through right now. It will get better Jay, the words are there, the mana is still percolating, but your body needs rest, and it has the final say, right now. Your not blocked J, far from it, the majic is still being produced behind the black door in the rear of your brain, your just a little to tired to be opening it all the time like your used too, don’t be so hard on yourself, just keep really good notes so you don’t forget the nuggets that pop into your head all day long, I know you. You need anything jerk the cord next to the black door, I’ll be by shortly. 🙂
    Take care friend

  3. mmSeason says:

    You don’t know me, and i haven’t had cancer. But i have problems with energy and what they call ‘pacing’ (hated word) which goes completely against my nature. Yes, that thing that mutters and pretends to be writer’s block is in fact energy fail. I have so many times wished i’d already made it to ‘known author’ before this struck.

    I recommend remembering the fallow-period metaphor – and a wisdom i have only just heard, but which sounds valid: when you have an hour or a day of good energy, that’s when to rest. That energy is what the body (and mind) will use for mending, so you mustn’t waste it working. In fact use the power of words: rename rest, call it the work you have to do, and it’s easier to allow.

    As a child stuck in the back of the car on long journeys, too nauseous to read, i daydreamed. That’s perhaps where all my stories came from. Trapped in non-activity can be the most fruitful time for the imagination.

    Don’t panic, you haven’t got less energy, it’s just that your usual levels are being used not only on dealing with the physical stuff but also the learning curve. Despair is brought on by lack of surplus energy, too; just remember not to believe what it points out, it will go away as well.

    Unasked advice is hateful, but use whatever of it helps and throw the rest away. :0)

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