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This week:Edited by: New Year, New Squirrel
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Welcome to the Mystery Newsletter. A good mystery is like that strange friend you've always had, and wouldn't give up for anything. Mysteries make you think, trying to solve the crime before the detective can. You follow ever clue, examine all of the crime scenes and remember what each suspect said when questioned by the detective. A good mystery can keep you interested until the end. A great mystery will keeps you guessing until the last page...when it makes you slap your forehead in surprise!
The fear of putting words on paper has been called many things, most notably, that old stock phrase "writers' block". According to the Webster, writers' block is defined as "A psychological inhibition preventing a writer from proceeding with a piece." While that phrase is easily identifiable, it has never gone far enough to suit me.
Not long ago I came across what I consider to be the quintessential defining phrase. Author Ralph Keyes described this common malady as page fright.
Isn't that perfect? What else so eloquently describes the writers' equivalent of that paralyzing sensation actors often experience just prior to stepping onto a stage? Keyes, a professor of English at Antioch College, used this term in a book he wrote called The Courage to Write: How Writers Transcend Fear (H. Holt, New York, 1995). In it, he discusses the crippling results of author insecurity, indecision, and inadequacy. Using quotes from writers like E.B. White and F. Scot Fitzgerald, he shows us that even the most gifted of our writing brethren suffer from this widespread psychological disorder.
Keyes tells us that many writers experience this problem from the moment they begin a new project. Their anxiety manifests itself as aversion to spoiling the purity of a blank page. For those afflicted, the slide down the slippery slope of depression begins as soon as they place the first letter on an empty sheet. They can't get passed the anxiety of sullying the paper.
According to the author, this mindset also has to do with each writer's vision of upcoming project. As long as the plan for an article or book resided entirely within the confines of an author's creative mind, it's perfect. Once the writer starts putting it on paper, however, the dread of producing something less than Pulitzer material increases with each additional word written. The further along in his project a writer goes, the more unruly the piece becomes. This depresses the author and makes him hesitate or even worse, shut down all together.
So how does each of us overcome this crippling emotion?
As creative artists go, writers have much more leeway than sculptors do. Imagine the possible results if Michelangelo had whacked his chisel too hard in a few places while he was fashioning David. Ouch!
Luckily, writers aren't working in marble. There are many remedies for our miscues. Those who use typewriters stock Whiteout. Those who scribble in longhand have the option to strike out phrases, sentences, or entire paragraphs at any time with a mere pen stroke. For computer owners, the delete key is within reach at all times. These tools prepare us to improve any writing project. We all possess the power to write, the power to delete, and the power to revise.
Of course our results may not be perfect in the Martha Stewart sense of the word, but as long as it's our personal best, that should be good enough.
Struggling to improve a project is not only healthy, it's noble. If the work comes too easily, many authors don't value it as much as something they've fought with and won.
Personally, as long as I understand the causes my own "page fright," I intend to deal with my condition. Like so many other chronic physical and mental disorders, I'm convinced that though I may suffer with it until my spirit permanently leave the planet, I possess the knowledge and the tools to manage and control it.
Thank you for taking the time to read. Happy Writing!
New Year, New Squirrel
Here are some short stories I found while traveling the highways and byways of Writing.Com!
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