There's this mythical thing called -- I can't say it. I'm too superstitious. It's my job and then the word "bee-ell-oh-see-kay." When a writer can't write, we call it this, and it's such a terrifying concept that my mind skates over it as a possibility, the same way it skates over traumatic memory or Kardashians.
My husband was musing about this phenomenon the other day, then said, "But you don't believe in it, right?" I worried that I would be struck mute (well, my fingers would be) on the spot. But he's right; ever since hearing a writer, years ago, say "I disavow that term," I have used that line myself. If I feel textually constipated, I reason that the writing muscles are working beneath the surface, that my mind is working on something and will let me know when it has figured the thing out.
I'm not a big one for "waiting for inspiration" or sitting still hoping the muse will strike. The solution to writer's block -- ack! i said it! -- is to write, even if what I'm writing is shit. "Inspiration can't find you if you're not where you said you'd meet it," I told him. "You have to at least show up."
So if I can't write one thing, I write around it. I write a different assignment. I write a blog post. I write an email. I write, I write, and when I'm done writing other stuff, I come back to the thing that was giving me trouble, and see if I can tease it out.
I think this is the same process -- the machinery working beneath the surface (mix that metaphor!) -- that tends to work so well in the shower. This morning I was brushing my teeth and reading my Twitter feed, which led to an article, which dovetailed with a Facebook argument that has been bothering me since yesterday, and bam. My morning deadlines are going to have to wait because if I don't offload this blog post (for RatedPeeGee), there won't be room for anything else.
Let's not talk about how often my writing metaphors would work best as poop metaphors. Let's just leave that one undigested.