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Stat

 Membership What is Writer's Block?

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6 hours ago, Stat said:

@Icewolf (I can't tag on mobile?)

 

You can but you need a space before the @ symbol. It’s intentional so that the tag box doesn’t com up if you are posting an email or something. I tag from mobile all the time @Stat (in fact this is a mobile post)

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I feel like a really good question here is why are we all speaking as if our partners owe us a more in-depth explanation than "I have writer's block/lack of muse right now"? That "excuse", whether you believe it's valid or not, tells you that they aren't into writing at the moment, which is communication, which is the real point. If they aren't aware themselves of the "deeper reasons" or they aren't willing to share what those reasons might be doesn't make that communication less valid.

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I would say the problem with a reason and the 'lack of muse' (note: I'm talking mostly for experience) is that a reason can and usually is fixed. Sometimes I won't post because I'm tired or not feeling well. That gives my partners the expectation that once I rest or start feeling better, they can expect a post, and I can just chat around without having to avoid people because 'have I gotten my muse back yet?'. 

 

That, and, in my personal experience, those players who claim lack of muse are the same players who stall a plot for months and then get mad or throw a fit that they have been left behind, because it's not their fault, it's their muse.

 

Personally, yes, I do have moments when I don't feel like posting, I'm not a machine. My reasons are mostly the ones everyone stated above. A lack of OOC communication when my partner isn't posting usually kills my interest after a while too. I don't need the details on why they're not posting, but if I can't even get a 'hey, I'm still here' once a month or so, I'll end up drifting away.

 

As for the people affected indirectly by it, I would suggest setting a personal deadline, to prevent anxiety and you waiting forever for someone else to get their muse back. Either set it silently or share it with your future partners, so they know that you need a post every (insert time here).

 

Because, as everything in the roleplay world, communication is also key here.

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All I have to say is if you try to guilt me into writing when I don't want, I will cut you. If you try to tell me I'm just being lazy because I don't want to write, I will cut you. It's not my job to make you feel better about me not wanting to write. Pancakes is not wrong, it doesn't matter if it's a "lack of muse" or a writer's block, your partner is under no obligation to go further than "I don't feel like writing" or "Hey sorry, I have a block I'm working through". I say this without prejudice because I recently went through a writer's block for various personal reasons, my hobby was effected. My school work was effected by it. I'm lucky that the majority of the people I write with are wonderful and don't require me to hold their hands and pat their back and make them feel better when I already feel like shit. Sith is also not wrong. They are both valid and real things, too damn bad if you don't like it, they happen and the only thing you can do is suck it up and roll with it. 

Edited by jenneral_jennson
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Yeah. I don't understand this strange sense of entitlement to an explanation of exactly why someone is not writing for you. Because that is what the main beef is, right? They aren't writing something for you. No one likes their stories to stall, but it is a creative hobby, and the person on the other side of the screen is a person. Forgetting that will kill rp faster than anything else. There are millions upon millions of reasons for not writing. From emotional to physical, and we all need to be understanding of this. A heads up is great, however they word it. But demanding an in depth analysis or an exact reason is just outrageous.

 

Maybe they don't want to tell you, and that is their right. Sometimes you might not want the answer.

 

Is it a continuous problem that makes this person nearly impossible to rp with? Then it is time for a frank conversation and an evaluation. Are they the right rp partner for you? Maybe they aren't and you need to part ways. That is okay. It is okay to break up with writing partners. It is okay to talk about these things in a manner that isn't accusatory or ugly. Sometimes I am sitting on replies for over a month and I just don't realize it has been that long because time flies. Sometimes I am slow or fast in replying. Talking about that with me is fine. As long as you do it respectfully. I have had people approach me, framing it as them being "worried about you as a friend" but they weren't worried about me they were upset I was not writing back to them as quickly as they liked. They were worried about themselves and their own fun.

 

Needless to say, I do not view this person as my friend any longer. And I am less inclined to write with them in the future. If they had been honest about their feelings in the first place, it would have been fine and I would have been much more understanding. Instead they lied. Pretending concern about me because their feelings were hurt and their expectations not met.

 

Asking what's up is fine. And we could all take a look at why we aren't writing, especially if we are constantly putting it off for whatever reason. But we also need to stop and think when we are getting upset with people for not replying. And take a look at our expectations and how we are approaching these people who are supposed to be our friends.

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I confess, I used to hate the term 'muse' but look how much influence this word alone has in our language. It is beautiful. So, I'm going to rip apart this question and have fun doing it. This might become an incoherent essay because I'm gonna go at this free style.

What is Muse?

Hi. Meet Muse. Muse has been around since the 12th to 14th century. Muse was the protector of arts and the inspiring goddess; actually, Muse was the nine daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne. That's just in the noun form. The verb form is: "to reflect, to be absorbed in thought," mid-14c., from Old French muser (12c.) "to ponder, dream, wonder; loiter, waste time," literally "to stand with one's nose in the air" (or, possibly, "to sniff about" like a dog who has lost the scent), from muse "muzzle," from Gallo-Roman *musa "snout," of unknown origin. Thank you for introducing us, etymonline.

All that above? You can't lose that. Your brain, even when you go into exhaustion, whirs silently in the background. You process things subconsciously, you dream and contemplate things to the forefront. You can miss sight of Muse, but it is there. Theoretically, forcing something like that to the fore can cause strain which is why there are mental exercises for stuff like this. Warm it up before you break something. Same for warming up vocal cords for singing, if you want a half-assed analogy.

Now, check out its influence and look at the words. Amuse, music, museum, bemuse, muzzle, and musette. It also has some influence or is influenced by in words like saunter, phrase, study, mouse, and mouth. Everything to do with the cerebral cortex and limbic system down to your legs, mouth, and hands. I imagine this is a large portion of why exercise and mental health goes hand in hand. Muse is nothing without physical motion of some sort. From history all the way down to now, to this little corner of RP community, "Muse" is a big fucking deal. Nice to meet you, Muse. Okay, everybody, moving on.

Okay, So What Is Writer's Block?

Excellent question. Writer's block has been simplified down to terms of resistance and laziness. That, my friends, is a mistake. I mean, it isn't wrong. It isn't right. But it's a mistake to choose to look at those two terms as the whole damn answer. Of course we're lazy. Of course we're coasting. Of course we're going to lose interest and dive in another direction to wherever "the muse takes us". People feel like there's an obligation to pin down exact reasons besides Writer's Block -- without looking at what Writer's Block itself actually could be and without realising that they're not entitled to other people's personal reasons. For the latter, I say, fuck you. :)

So, where to start with this. Back to the question, I suppose. I'm going to quote parts of the original post here.
 

On 2/12/2018 at 5:57 PM, Stat said:

 

@KainZilla 's post in this thread got me thinking about this, specifically this quote:


"Writers like coming up with terms, so we invented a whole new one for 'procrastination,' even though we didn't need to."  Writing is the only task where people think putting off doing it is an essential, even noble, part of the process. Nobody has ever died because their doctor had surgeon's block. Adolescents aren't starving to death in the halls of their school because the cafeteria team has cafeteria team's block. Imagine complaining to your boss about burger flipper's block.


So, we're equating writing with flipping burgers (which can become a mindless task) and surgery (which requires more than one brain working together, as well as use of electronics, sharp implements, and frequent mental health checks). That's rather flippant. Do you think doctors didn't have a block when they were writing their theses before getting their degrees? Or that they didn't fail a time or two before getting their shit together? Or that they haven't made fatal mistakes? Mm. They're only human, after all, as much as I have great respect for their practises. You're basically saying that we are OBLIGATED to write for the good of mankind -- in a RP convo thread. :/ What? Can't help on the PhD, though, that's a personal quest that I have no experience in.

There is nothing inherently noble about writing, when it processes so much use of ego, fantasies, and narrow lens on people's grasp of their world around them. It's useful, yes. It's a big part of community and culture influence, yes. It helps with critical thinking, broadening understanding, all of that. I totally get it, but where does nobility and obligation enter into that? Find some fucking humility first. Check it, too: Roleplaying is a very social activity. It's not just writing or moving a plot around or gaming, it's a social activity. You require other brains to make this fun. FUN. Is that an alien concept? The minute someone starts bitching, it's less fun.

Now that we've established that roleplaying is a social activity that requires little obligation, little nobility, little funds, and should not take food from your mouth when you fail. . . Let's explore a little concept of Writer's Block.

For this, I am whipping out our handy, dandy. . . WIKIPEDIA! I know, it's lame, but this isn't a PhD essay. Bear with me, I've already run on long enough as it is. I'm going to just throw around quotes at this point that I thought were relevant to the conversation.
 

Quote

Professionals who have struggled with the affliction include authors such as F. Scott Fitzgerald[2] and Joseph Mitchell,[3] comic strip cartoonist Charles M. Schulz,[4] Russian composer Sergei Rachmaninoff,[5] and British songwriter Adele.[6] Research concerning this topic was done in the late 1970s and 1980s. During this time, researchers were influenced by the Process and Post-Process movements, and therefore focused specifically on the writer's processes. The condition was first described in 1947 by psychoanalyst Edmund Bergler.[7] However, some great writers may have already suffered from writer’s block years before Bergler described it, such as Herman Melville, who quit writing novels a few years after writing Moby-Dick.[8]


Holy shit, history again. AND LOOK AT THAT. Famous authors got the affliction. Damn. How can us lower beings deal if they had it? But wait a minute. . . what caused all that shit?
 

Quote

Writer's block may have several causes. Some are creative problems that originate within an author's work itself. A writer may run out of inspiration, or be distracted by other events. 

. . .

Other blocks may be produced by adverse circumstances in a writer's life or career: physical illness, depression, the end of a relationship, financial pressures, or a sense of failure.[citation needed] The pressure to produce work may in itself contribute to writer's block, especially if they are compelled to work in ways that are against their natural inclination (i.e. with a deadline or an unsuitable style or genre).


Huh, okay. Interesting. Yes, yes, I see now.
 

Quote

It has been suggested that writer's block is more than just a mentality. Under stress, a human brain will "shift control from the cerebral cortex to the limbic system".[11] The limbic system is associated with the instinctual processes, such as "fight or flight" response; and behavior that is based on "deeply engrained training". The limited input from the cerebral cortex hinders a person's creative processes, which are replaced by the behaviors associated with the limbic system. The person is often unaware of the change, which may lead them to believe they are creatively "blocked".[11] In her 2004 book The Midnight Disease: The Drive to Write, Writer's Block, and the Creative Brain (ISBN 9780618230655), the writer and neurologist Alice W. Flaherty has argued that literary creativity is a function of specific areas of the brain, and that block may be the result of brain activity being disrupted in those areas.[12]


Eureka! This is something that came to my mind. Brain fatigue -- I get this from merely interacting five minutes with two or three people in a group. So, what else can cause issues? Oooh. STRESS. Yes. Oh fuck no, I just remembered. Psychologists have something that causes them to be unable to analyse something, right? Doctors even have fatigues and training slip from memory. But, listen, we're exempt, right, guys? We're just writers and players. We don't have limbic systems that can be associated with. . . how did that sentence go. Instinctual processes. Right. We're just procrastinating. We're so lazy.

We're making up excuses at this point. Screw it, guys, we're fucked. Just write or I'll whip you, peasants. (Mm, that sounds kinda fun, doesn't it? You like a little pain?)

Okay, so, I'm winding down. I will be fucking amazed if you guys read all of this.

So, quoting again from OP:
 

Quote

What do you think? Is lack of muse a real thing? Can it just be forced through? Do you ever just sit in front of your computer actively not getting any posts out? Will you tell the guys in charge of my scholarship that I admitted I spend weeks without working sometimes?


What do I think. . . No. No. Yes. And I'd try. :) Stop being lazy, get to work on your PhD.

Edited by Kaycakes
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I've been  giving  this thread  some thought since I came across it. I remember reading the thread response where the OP got the quote from above, and I didn't like that nonsense quote from the Cracked people(imo given how much their content has gone down the drain over the years, perhaps they should've taken a break on occasion instead of forcing themselves to write) then anymore than I do now. Other professions have version of writer's block, they just usually call it something else(re: The Yips wherein athletes are concerned or re: burnout for general), but the idea that "writer's are just making things up for an excuse" is such an elitist view that usually is spread around more by people who think little of art and artists than artists themselves. Why should we as writers perpetuate that belief among ourselves? Blank page syndrome is not the same as writer's block, though it can be considered similar, but I hardly ever see people disparage writers over it and that's odd given not everyone experiences that either. So why would we over whether someone saying they have no muse/lack of muse or writer's block? These are things that people deal with, and yes it usually relates to something they're not feeling or are going through in their lives, but it doesn't make it any less valid. Some days I can't write unless I'm in the right mood, or comfortable enough, or until I find the right music. Other days, I can't write at all as nothing comes to me and it doesn't matter how much I sit around analyzing, trying to find something to jog it into action, thinking about or talking about writing related matters or researching something that may related to what I'm trying to write. . . it's not going to happen. Sometimes I'm blocked, other times I just have squat. We're human, it happens. Before I address the next thing I've noticed about this thread. . . let me answer the OP first:

 

Quote

What do you think? Is lack of muse a real thing? Can it just be forced through? Do you ever just sit in front of your computer actively not getting any posts out? Will you tell the guys in charge of my scholarship that I admitted I spend weeks without working sometimes?

 

Obviously I answered the first above. The second question, that depends on the person. It's an individual thing for everyone 'cause while that may work for some folks, it doesn't for others. Then there's an area where it works half and half. For example, sometimes pushing through and writing anyways can work for me. Sometimes writing something else unrelated to what I'm blocked on/can't get any muse for works for me. Other times, neither of these things work and if I do what I turn out ends up being something I loathe entirely and will not post anyways unless I re-write it and I usually don't feel up to doing that as it is. So then it becomes, what's the point of pushing through? Essentially, the answer to the second question is:  do what works for you. There's always this assumption that what works for others will work for everyone, and that's just blatantly untrue. The third question, we all do it. If someone says they don't do it they're probably lying. It's not like we all use our computers and/or internet access for just writing. And as to your last question, who would we tell? And why would we? Plus if you don't think those people haven't been on the same struggle bus before you're putting them on a pedestal. And as a last note on that front, the way people go through stuff with writing can vary too depending on the type of writing(ie academic writing can be easier for some than creative writing or vice versa).

 

And now, onto the other take-away from this thread that I've noticed: people make a lot of assumptions, and just need to stop doing that really. Here's the thing, writer's block and lack of muse/no muse doesn't necessarily relate to procrastination or laziness or even disinterest in a plot(I can love a plot deep down into my bones and still struggle writing for it, that's just life). I've never seen anyone claim no muse/writer's block rather than just admitting to one of those things instead. I'm not quiet about the fact that I'm lazy sometimes nor that I have a bad habit of procrastinating(though this usually relates more to real life responsibilities than my RP responsibilities but sometimes it happens to cross into that zone) or that I'm not really feeling a plot. So making one of these assumptions when people say they have no muse or lack of muse or writer's block is rude. Honestly, sometimes I just don't have the motivation which is absolutely not the same as being lazy or procrastinating or being disinterested, and I doubt that I'm the only one in the world.

 

The other assumption I've seen boils down to people thinking that the people going through these things either a.) don't know the reasons they're struggling or b.) want to have conversations to analyze and get over it. Look the simple response here is nobody owes you an explanation nor do they have to want to sit and have a conversation about it. If I say I'm struggling with muse or have no muse then all I expect is a "well, that sucks" and that's it -- nothing more, heck sometimes no response at all is fine. My RP partners generally understand the reasons without me needing to explain and those are the ones that will continue being my partners as years move forward compared to the ones that expect some analysis to occur whenever I say those words. These are the people who know too that I probably know the reasons I'm struggling and having them tell me/talk with me about them isn't going to help now if it has never helped me before. Also, generally most people get that when people say "I've got writer's block" or "I have no muse" that they usually mean more, but perhaps don't want to explain it. And they do. not. have. to. explain. Not to you, not to anyone unless they choose they want to as it's their choice.

 

Example: I have chronic pain/illness and some mental health issues. I deal with a whole host of things day in and day out. It's a long list, and sometimes I deal with a lot of crap through the day/week/month/year. Some days, sure I might feel like mentioning that I'm not up to writing cause stress has me sleeping little which makes my chronic fatigue worse, and that makes me deal with brain fog(fun fun fun trying to string words or put thoughts on a page when you struggle to just think of a word half the time). Or that maybe I can't write cause my hands are in flare making the physical pain and the nerve pain I deal with in them act up so that even typing on a keyboard feels like someone is hitting them with a hammer. Or I'm having a bad depression day(cause for me, my physical pain exacerbates my depression which in turn can make my physical pain worse) where no writing for threads will come but I still would like some conversation.

 

BUT other times, if this is an on-going thing for days or weeks or months(or if I'm having just a generally bad year), then my go-to response some days is literally just going to be "struggling with muse really bad right now" instead of re-hashing the same things over and over and over since I deal with something every day and that's all you're getting from me. Even with my friends in private or with folks in groups where I fit who tend to be understanding, I still feel like a butthead coming in with my woes and being all debbie downer when there's excitement going on(it's an issue I deal with even in real life; half the time I tell people I'm a-okay or things aren't that bad cause I don't want to bring the mood down).

 

If for some reason you think I owe you an explanation and you push me? Don't expect the response to be nice either. I will give you a detailed description of the stuff I go through that kills my muse and ability to write, and my tone will not be nice nor will my attitude toward you continue to be as friendly 'cause quite simply I do not have to explain myself. Sometimes, I prefer to just work through stuff on my own and that includes my issues with writing and anything else unless I otherwise ask for advice.

 

To wrap this up, I'll say that instead of making assumptions about what people really mean when they choose to say their issue is no muse/lack of muse or writer's block. . . you just don't instead and remember that they don't owe you anymore than the explanation they just chose to give you, and move on from there. Everyone is going through something in their daily lives that has a toll on their mental/physical state and or energy which inevitably effects other things. If you feel like their issue is impeding you/your plots somehow then bring it up and talk to them like an adult, but don't make assumptions that if only they'd talk to you about it maybe you could work out while they're struggling or anything of that nature cause for the most part that's not going to be the case. I've read repeated books/articles, tried different techniques, etc. recommended to me by awesome, well-meaning people in my many years of writing(26 years in total of general writing & 18 years of online writing via RP), and none of them have permanently resolved or cured me of dealing with these things. Usually people know themselves what they need to do to work through the issue, and if they don't then they will likely ask for advice when they're ready.

 

If you want your RP to feel like a community, and a welcoming one at that, then the not pushing attitude is the one you want to foster. People often forget, but RP groups have never just been about writing all the time. They're just as much about the feeling of getting together with people who enjoy similar passions and finding a community where you fit at times when you might not feel like you fit elsewhere. Seeing that attitude prevail -- that people don't have to write nonstop like we're robots or get hounded about it -- is what makes a community look positive too.

Edited by LOVE ME AND DESPAIR
so many typos & my last paragraph got deleted somehow, oops
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On 2/12/2018 at 4:24 PM, SithLordOfSnark said:

I don't care what anyone says - Lack of muse is definitely real and can  be caused by many things, from stress to just plain being bored of a character.

 

I think for me, "Writer's Block" is more a gentle euphemism of being bored with the other player's character.   

Which I usually won't recover from... unless there's some sort of miracle. lol

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