The Drought in My Head

Five!  Four!  Three!  Two!  One!  Happy New Year!  Blast off!  Bombs away!  Geronimo!

Whatever you want to call it, January unleashes a plague of optimism, doesn’t it?  That’s how I felt on New Year’s Eve.  It was like the unveiling of a new Apple product.  The iYear.  2019 is going to be the greatest thing ever.  All other years before it will look like cave paintings.  Hell, I’m ready to see Jony Ive hype that up.

I had project boards set up to manage different pieces, Excel forms to keep an eye on submissions, and even an insanely cool word tracker for the year.  I sat down at my computer ready, pumped, and a total blank slate.

And I’ve been a blank slate for three days now.  In fact, this is the first thing I’ve written this year.

This falls under the category of New Year’s resolutions that are easier said than done.  You’ve got a goal that sounds simple on paper but becomes daunting because you haven’t planned out how to achieve it.  Even a more concrete goal like writing a short story each week is challenging because the core problem is the creative block that I’ve had for so long.

The good thing is I’m not beating myself up over it, and you shouldn’t either.  Lawrence Block wrote that creativity is about making the conditions right for new ideas to form.

I’m from California.  We’re no strangers to drought.  When we had our first big storm a few years ago, people assumed that the drought was over when we actually needed several more storms to recover.  Likewise, it’s going to take time to recover from such a prolonged creative block.  Even if you do wake up tomorrow with a hundred new ideas, it will be a while before they’re written and ready for submissions.

I’m revising my resolution from “write a new story every week” to “come up with a new idea weekly”.  Give that a try as well.  Just one idea.  Don’t worry if it’s good or bad.  Don’t worry if someone else has done it (trust me, someone else has done it).  At least then you’ll have a starting point, the first raindrops of what will hopefully become a storm.

And be patient with yourself.  For the love of God, please be patient with yourself.

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