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How does writer’s block work? I can be buzzing along, thinking about all sorts of things, and then I sit down to write about them and the best I can think of is “I saw lots of birds on my drive to work today!” which isn’t even good conversation.  And the next thing you know, I’m hiding from any writing I wanted to do and am instead designing packaging for an artificial product I’m going to invent called Bethini’s Writer’s Laxatives! Guaranteed to unblock the fiercest of creative clogs!  And then I remember why I don’t work in marketing.  Honestly, who would buy a product with the word ‘clog’ in the name if it wasn’t a knitting pattern for felted slippers?

My felted slippers are doing nicely, by the way.  I love them.

I spend a disproportionate amount of my time worrying about writing. It’s particularly disproportionate in comparison to the amount of time I spend actually writing, although there’s a close correlation vis: the less I write, the more I worry, and vice versa. So there’s a relationship, but I’m not sure it’s effective in the way I would like. And writer’s block is self-perpetuating, too.  The longer you’ve gone without writing, the harder it is to get back to it and persuade yourself that you’ve still Got It.

I have always rolled my eyes a little when people talk about being a litle scared of some particular techinique in knitting, whether it’s steeking, colourwork or lace.  After all, people have been steeking, colourworking and lace knitting since Hector was a pup, and surely if it was that dangerous nobody would be doing it, or it would be regulated and monitored by the government at huge expense.  But people are scared, and I felt smug.  And then I realised something really embarrassing.  I want to write it in teensy letters so that, if on the off-chance someone reads this blog, they can’t see it properly.

I’m sometimes scared of writing.

Ludicrous.  Stupid. But there it is.  It’s out in the open now, and we have to deal with it.  And by we, I mean me.  Me have to deal with it.  It’s true, though: sometimes I sit down to write and I think about what it means to be a writer; what it means to want to catch the thoughts and ideas and characters I have either encountered or invented, and I seize up.  I get scared of putting my ideas in a tangible form, where others can laugh at them or, worse, I can see how stupid or rubbish they are. I get nervous about the prospect of failure, judgment and flaws.  The ideas are so much prettier in my head, that putting them on the page (well, screen) and seeing them turn to ash is uncomfortable.  Or trying to apply my fairly limited skills to them, and have them turn into clunky, wooden things with unbalanced legs.  That’s not much fun.  So I step away, think of something else, and cover my eyes so I don’t look at the screen.

There’s the flipside, of course: sometimes I write and the ideas grow and change and became fantastic, blazing things.  Or sometimes I hit upon just the right turn of phrase and BAM! Awesomeness.  The problem is that you never really know which kind of writing is going to flow on any given day.

I put off starting a blog for a long time, and sniggered a bit at the people who wrote them, seeing it as self-indulgent, or as an attempt to make yourself feel important.  I don’t think of it like that anymore.  I think I was a bit scared then, too, that if I started a blog, I’d have to admit to myself that I was prone to self-indulgence and feeling important — which I am, but that’s beside the point.  I really enjoy this medium; I enjoy having somewhere to say my bit and put up pictures of my knitting; and I love the reclamation of the role of author.  It’s only a baby step, but at least I’m not scared of it.

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