The irony of this post is how long it took me to write it. When trying to pen something on writer’s block, it is fairly predictable that you will suffer from the very affliction about which you are trying to write. Perhaps this is an example of the universe’s obnoxious sense of humor, but I think it is, more likely, something far more practical. I believe the topic (and the attempt to expound on the subject) is akin to the idea of telling someone not think about elephants. As soon as you have the thought of what not to do, your head is riddled with images of Dumbo, dressed as a fairy princess and dancing around the cafeteria of your elementary school. (That last part may be unique to me.)
The creative process is an individual thing, as varied as the people doing the creating. For some, there is a need to sit at a computer to get any writing done. Others need their thoughts organized on note cards before stringing together some sentences. Some writing for distraction, some seek distraction to avoid writing. Still others alter their methods each time, hoping a new procedure will be the perfect set of circumstances that allow for the best writing. Personally, I am guilty of all of the methods listed above. Even this article was written with pen and paper first. My hope was I would be forced to slow down a little and allow for more time to think about what I’m writing. It remains to be seen if my theory is correct.
When I encounter (or, more accurately, read about) professional writers and their methods, I am always intrigued. I’ve heard about people building writing shacks to isolate them from the world as they write. Authors have been known to write entire novels longhand, or on antique typewriters. George R.R. Martin has used the same word processor since the early 1980s. Whatever the method, the fact remains that it needs to work. As an author, you must be happy with the results (or hate the results with a low enough intensity that you begrudgingly allow it to be read by others).
You may be asking by this point, “What does this have to do with nerds?” The answer is fairly obvious: Nerds are some of the best writers out there.I’ve not found very much about the writing methods of Joss Whedon, J.J. Abrams, or George Lucas. (Steady on, friends. Slow your vitriol for Mr. Lucas. I shall address him and his purported writing crimes in the future.). The reality, at least for me, is these nerds are successful and beloved writers. While they will invariably and inevitably struggle with writer’s block, that is the exception and not the rule.
As consumers of media, we don’t often think of the arduous, almost back-breaking process involved in getting our favorite thing to the screen/bookstore/internet. We focus on the final product, often overlooking the undoubtedly painful decisions to kill a character or alter something from the source material. We, especially in the nerd community, feel incredible ownership over the stories we love. When we disagree with the choices made by the author, we disagree loudly and mercilessly. A writer may struggle with crafting the perfect story, laboring over the most minute of details, all while working under the crushing pressure of a brain that won’t let you put thoughts on the page. The average consumer of the writing doesn’t care. We never for a moment entertain the possibility that George, Joss, and J.J. may have suffered to bring us Luke, Buffy, and Spock, respectively.
I don’t know that I could think of a self-described nerd who isn’t a fan of the good writing. I dare say a prerequisite of nerdom is a love of the written word. When one aspires to create that written word for an audience of nerds, one’s memory is inevitably drawn to the burning effigies of George Lucas and that insufferable bastard Jar-Jar Binks. If Lucas, the man who codified that which became the stereotypes for nerds, couldn’t write well enough for the nerd community, how could I possibly hope to succeed? The simple answer? I can’t. I should have listened to Admiral Ackbar.