Thursday, October 31, 2013

A lull in inspiration

It happens now and then, doesn't it? Much as I love my blog, I sometimes run out of the inspiration to write anything. It's odd because I've got plenty to write about: books I've read, places been, work done - I mean I've even been go-karting for the first time ever, for heaven's sake - at my age! And yet when I think of writing about it, them, whatever, it just feels like one big shrug. So what to do?

I'm a writer, aren't I? I don't mean as in a career novelist or some such, but it's what I've always done at work to pay the rent. After all, when I'm not writing  as a hobby, I spend my days teaching groups of poor souls how to do it too. Leaping up and down with excitement in the classroom over the difference between a dependent clause and a subordinating phrase is what keeps food on the table. Believe it or not, I do still manage to get excited about it, which is just as well as I'm the only one who does.

One thing I've come to realise though is that I instill all these rules about sentence structure and 'the perfect clause' in my academic writing students, but then promptly break them all myself in the interests of my own style. I feel guilty about it sometimes. The thing is it makes me almost schizophrenic as a writer. On the one side, I'm expostulating about proper academic structure, coherence and style, but allowing all sorts of other 'low importance' errors (e.g. wrong verb forms and word forms abound without too much comment). In academic writing, perfect grammar and punctuation are not considered of primary importance, see. It's the development of the critical discussion and final argument that counts. But then I come to a class of business communication students, and for this, faultless spelling and grammar are essential for a professional image. However, in the business world, the focus on information flow and critical approach are not deemed as important as being concise and to the point. At least that's what I learned in my former guise as a marketing and communications writer. It's all about persuasive messages, these (I find) often being at odds with critical thinking.

And then I get home and put on another hat. I move into my creative and narrative writing persona, which is different again. Grammar, spelling and punctuation become my personal editing nemeses (if such a thing is possible in plural), but lovely, juicy sentence fragments are part of my creative toolbox. In fact I break most of the academic writing rules in creative writing, but have to cross all sorts of other 't's and dot different 'i's. And what's worse, my students start googling me, buy my books and see me hacking all those rules I've been giving them to pieces.

So here we are. All three of me. Wondering which persona I use when writing my blog.

But now I remember. I had nothing to write about, didn't I? Ah well, I seem to have overcome this particular writing block just by writing about not writing right - or something.

Does anyone else ever suffer from these inspiration freezes?

Here's a photo that I just love for no particular reason

PS But I suppose this just proves there's always something to tap out in the end...


  1. Hi Val. I hope I don't have my first writing freeze now that I've just begun NaNo - writing a novel in a month - for the fifth time. I've always had the opposite problem - so much to write about, so little time...D

  2. Let’s take karting… no, let’s not, because I’ve never been karting in my life… although we could, because I could extrapolate from driving cars and use my imagination… a lot! ;) Yes, let’s take karting. Valerie Poore, by her own admission, is not so hot on the track as she is on the keyboard (or, indeed, the canal) and, if her account of her karting experience is anything to go by, she cannot do as well as her daughter, who (probably) has been before and is young and fearless. She certainly cannot do as well as regular karters (are they really called that?), who have long since mastered the controls and know the track so well that they can stop thinking about what they are doing and roar at speed round and round, overtaking apparently recklessly and breaking all the conventional safe driving rules. You can see where I’m going with this… round and round! ;)
    My day job demands very precise use of language to fulfil customer requirements and I have to negotiate the set course or be out of work. Writing fiction, however, allows me to follow my own inclinations as far as the use of language is concerned. I feel comfortable with it, am confident that I won’t come to grief if I am (apparently) reckless and ignore the rules. Why not begin a sentence with a conjunction? And so I do. Writing for fun on Twitter and blogs is even more naughtily outrageous, taking verbal corners on two wheels and zipping through 140 characters-with-spaces-per-minute without harming anyone, even me! I wouldn’t mind betting (not that I do bet) that Valerie Poore would soon be whizzing round the kart track like a maniac if she did it every week, or day, or hour, as she does with writing.
    So, I think Valerie’s students, who are cautiously learning to use language, do need some linguistic driving rules and, once they’ve mastered them, can aim for Formula 1, forgetting the limits and the rules. ;)
    Sorry, can't sleep.

  3. Denise, good luck with the NaNo thing!! I'll be watching how you are doing!

    Chrstina, can I copy and paste this over my post? Just brilliant! Perhaps I should try insomnia as a cure for writer's fatigue :) A master of the linguistic track is what you are!

  4. Hi Val, I was surprised to discover that you sometimes have trouble putting pen to paper. I suffer from a similar problem and find myself waffling, desperate to come up with something! My head seems to be full of good ideas, but before I can write them down they vanish, despite all the notes I make on every available scrap of paper. And I agree with Denise, so little time to do everything...

  5. I think we all have times when one day melts into the next and we think that means we have nothing to write about. But if we can unpick that sameness, it can be extraordinary what we might find ... take a walk to a familiar cafe ... there is someone in the corner you've not seen before ... she's wearing a large hat, so big it hides much of her face ... where has she come from ... what it she hiding ...

    I do know what you mean, Val - but it's interesting that stories can creep from behind big hats sometimes.

  6. There are times when I cannot even make a decent comment....

  7. Anita, in the end, I can always write something even if it's about nothing :-) It's just lack of inspiration, though. Maybe it's the weather!

    Jo, you are right, and I know I have plenty to write about. I just can't care enough about it to do it, so I write a load of drivel about righting how I write…:-)

    Mel, nice one….. :-)

  8. Hi Val,

    Yes, that sometimes happens, but I usually find just a simple photo or a conversation, or something you've noticed sparks off creativity. Beyond the "idea" mix in a bit of humour and off you go..

    As you know, this comes from one who's not blogging at the moment!! So who am I to talk?!

    Shame really, what I could write at the moment would make some great blog posts!

    But if my mother read what we're up to she'd burst a blood vessel! :O

    Perhaps we should swap blogs for a while lol


  9. I suppose everyone suffers from inspiration freezes and it usually passes! I love the photo too. Are they cranes?

  10. Thanks Heth…now you've made me curious about what you are planning!!

    Jenny, yes, the are cranes! I'm glad you like them too. I love cranes.

  11. I think everyone struggles for inspiration every now and then. If I happen to read some of my old blogposts I always think I could never do any better and how did I manage to think of that post in the first place,then I panic that I will never be able to write anything ever again. I'm only educated in English to standard grade,no higher education for English so I sometimes feel people will read my blog or book reviews and think everything I've written is wrong. I enjoy writing maybe because I'm not a slave to the rules of the English lanuague. I'm too old to learn more now.


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