Thursday, November 11, 2010

Aiming for everything and hitting nothing

To say I've had writer's block would be misnomer as it would suggest that I am, or ever have been, a real writer. Instead, all I can say is that the words have been falling out of my head and I have been failing to catch them. Why even try to fish when your net has a gaping hole at the bottom of it? I am sure that you all, at some time or another, have woken up with a start, having dreamed the most incredible story and thought, if only I could get this down on paper, it would be a bestseller, but then, by the time you have got out of bed, it has all fallen into that great void into which unwritten words disappear forever. Then I think you'll understand.

My strengths and, even more so, my weaknesses, are as clear to me now as my right and left hands. My greatest strength is my creativity, but my even greater weakness is my almost total lack of self-discipline. Dilettante, dabbler, butterfly, Jack of all trades, master of none; dare I say, Renaissance man? No, I dare not, for that would merely be giving in to my own weaknesses. More oft than not, there are so many things that I want to do, that I do nothing.

In Mexico, they say, a todo le tiras, y a nada le pegas: you aim for everything, but you hit nothing. That's me, and I have to change. I really have to hit something: the keyboard. Or I will be that would-be fisherman standing in a bleak seaside bar one winter's day, holding out his arms and saying, 'It was that big, but I let it get away.'


  1. I find it definitely helps if I remember to keep a pen by my bedside. And recently someone gave me a stack of blank postcards,so I take a small batch of them with me lately and have been filling them I can 'catch' the words, I like your analogy with the nets. So now I have a lot of fish. Next what?!!
    Good luck with your catch:))

  2. To know his own weaknesses is a great step toward wisdom. Procrastination is a kind of sign that shows we like perfection. And we have to deal with laziness?


  3. Too many ideas, too little time... Lately, it has helped me a great deal to incorporate one big theme in everything I do. Writing, painting, playing - all in the same atmosphere. If the words don't come, the images are still there, and visa versa.

    Also, I carry a voice recorder with me. For the first lines of stories, poems, whatever. Often, these will disappear in the final draft, but the idea is captured, waiting for me to work on it.

    I have no problem with self-discipline, as I have been working as a freelance translator for many years (working as a painter and writer at night). I set my own deadlines - in almost everything I do.

    And then I let them go. Because the flow tells me to...

  4. I just learned that the most items you should put on your "to-do" list is 5. I guess that's per day. I may have been spacing out when someone told me that.

  5. And sorry, I beg to differ - "hitting nothing," - really! ridiculous!