The Rabbit Hole and Writer’s Block

Oct 13, 2020

When you are writing you go “down the rabbit hole.” This is a pretty apt analogy. A story is just an entire creation that depends for all its parts on itself. You create not only what is in the rabbit hole but why Alice leaps, who she was before, after, during. All the choices made in or out of that hole are yours, the writer’s.

As a writer, once you have an idea or vision, whatever you want to call it, it is often simply the process of writing down what “happens” in that rabbit hole. It’s pretty fast because once set in motion it is driven by the forces of imagination which are instantaneous. Fingers on a keyboard or ink on paper are not, they are much, much slower. The effort is just in the keeping up as best you can, getting it down in its sloppy glory as it moves along. It’s fun when it all comes out in a rush. Writers tend to like that.

I’ve heard many different descriptions of process for writers but one thing you hear about is Writer’s Block. This is where you are stuck, blank page or mid paragraph and just don’t know what to write next.

This thing called Effort is no longer about getting it down on paper and keeping up with imagination. What comes into play is effort that doesn’t really fit in with writing, I suppose you could say. The imagination is stuck, on hold, on vacation, etc. The effort becomes trying to THINK your way out of it. This rarely works because the creation is purely imagination based, not thinking based.

It seems to me that the reason for this is that effort to replace imagination should never be part of the finished product in the sense that a reader should be carried along as the writer was by the imagination and immediate creation. It should seem, to the reader, to be effortless. To flow. That is a product of imagination, primarily.

There is lots of rewriting and editing of that crazy dash to paper in a first draft, but that dash to paper is important. The spirit should shine through all the eventual cleaning that comes afterwards.

That said, one can get stopped, or stuck.

I do one thing to prevent that and one thing to fix it. To prevent it I try to stop writing before I’m “done.” I don’t drink the well dry. I stop when the imagination is still running things and thinking hasn’t entered the equation. And, if I hit the wall and I’m “done” and don’t know what’s next, I “fix it” by recognizing I’ve run dry and walking away and going and, literally or euphemistically, mowing the lawn. I don’t think about the story or anything, I just do something physical that is simple and somewhat repetitive and, lo and behold, when I return some time later, I am back on the imagination train.

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