Thursday, February 01, 2007

Writer's Disinterest

I don't believe in writer's block. Put me in front of a keyboard and I can write.

But, because I spend my life sitting at a keyboard--writing and editing and creating page layouts, Web sites, and advertising material, and doing other related tasks, and because a good portion of my social interaction comes via e-mail and Yahoo groups and blogs--I sometimes get "writer's disinterest."

Writer's disinterest might best be defined as: I can write; I just don't want to.

I want to be somewhere else doing something else.

So I usually do. I find something else to do until I either must return to the keyboard because of a client- or editor-imposed deadline to meet or I want to return to the keyboard because inspiration struck.

Writer's disinterest doesn't strike often, never lasts long, and is easily cured.


Sandra Seamans said...

Is writer's disinterest the same as bordom? Do you ever get so bored with a story that you just want to chuck it all in the trash?

Michael Bracken said...

Writer's disinterest and boredom are different.

Although an individual project might bore me--that is, I'm not excited by a subject or theme I've been assigned or a story of my own seems to lack a spark--I'm never bored with the process of writing.

Writer's disinterest is an overall feeling of wanting to be anywhere but the computer. It isn't boredom and it isn't procrastination (when I'm procrastinating I tend to clean my office) and it isn't a block because I can write if I have to.

Maybe writer's disinterest is the equivalent of taking a "mental health day."

I've never been so bored with a story that I wanted to chuck it all in the trash. I have had stories that I've set aside--sometimes for years--because I didn't know where the story was going.

Of course, as a short story writer I don't spent a great deal of time on any single project. Were I a novelist, I might find myself a hundred or two hundred pages into something and then be weary from concentrating all my effort on that single project. That might be the perfect time for a mental health day!

sandra seamans said...

Maybe boredom wasn't the right thought. I love to write, finding a thought or an idea and turning it into a story is exciting.

What I hate is having that idea and writing down pages of thoughts, and sentences, and still not being about to mold it into a story. Maybe frustration is the better word. Knowing the idea is good, but the story is crap.

Do you find it hard to set aside a story that's not working? For me it just drives me nuts until I get the idea out of my head and the story has some kind of resolution. After that, I can set it aside until another idea comes along that will work itself into the story and make it better.

Michael Bracken said...

Frustration? Of course. Some stories frustrate the bejesus out of me. That's why I always have a few dozen stories in progress at any time. I can switch to a different story whenever I feel frustrated and, sooner or later, I'll return to the story that frustrated me and continue working on it.

But not every writer is able to keep multiple projects going. Some writers only work on one piece at a time and I can only imagine how frustrating that must be...

Steven said...

I'm usually at work on several projects at a time, mixing short stories and novels. When I don't feel like writing one, then there's something else to write. Still, I completely see the disinterest thing. There are lot's of writers who will swear that they can't possibly spend a day without writing - it's in their blood, etc. But I've never felt that. I take time away from writing with some frequency. I love it, but it's not my life.

Michael Bracken said...

Although I can't imagine my life without writing--after all, I've been writing professionally for more than 30 years and was writing and getting published even before that*--a day away from the keyboard can recharge the engine.

*My first published piece was a poem in my junior high school literary magazine; before I left my teens I was writing for pay.