Writer's Block, Deadlines and Other Creepy Things that go Bump in the Night
Story & Image Manipulation by Rhiannon Nachbaur of Award-Winning Fiddleheads Violin Studio
I'm having a Monday. Oh, not a commonplace Monday involving skipping your shower to make a early meeting, running over the trash can at the end of the driveway with the minivan, followed by 90 minutes in crawling traffic and highlighted by a double-double down your drawers just before you learn the meeting wasn't cancelled, didn't you get the memo?
My Monday is far more ominous.
My Monday feeds on my innermost fears for a full month, seeping to the surface of my subconscience after 28 days of terror. I'm like a human about to turn werewolf, counting with imminent doom the sunsets until I am made a ghastly monster to all who know me.
My Monday: Deadline for my music column.
As a self employed musician acting as freelance writer on the side (my grandparents are still waiting to hear the punchline) I fit in my work whenever I can, which translates into late nights and frantic attempts at forming a... cohesive... sentence between... interruptions from... my four-year-old son.
Between music, business and family life I keep a fast pace, cramming in relaxation like one forces a spoonful of a nasty liquid that is supposed to be good for the spleen or some other so-called necessary organ. As if I weren't busy enough, this pace is accented by my lurking mental calendar, knowing deadline is upon me.
Deadline usually manifests itself when I am at my busiest, or worse yet, when I am trying to relax. As I type this, I am visiting with family on the coast, alone in a dark, moist room like a leper, pouring my heart into my laptop while my family enjoys some rare Seattle sunshine.
(Cue tragic violin music...)
I never intend to place myself in this wretched situation each month, it sneaks up on me and by then I don't have the foggiest idea what to write about. Apparently, I am not alone in my suffering. In a recent American poll, 95% of college students surveyed said they procrastinate frequently. 11% of procrastinators wasted time thinking of ways to get out of writing their paper, and 17% would rather watch paint dry than complete their paper.
Procrastination strikes writers of all types. Composers are notorious for procrastinating, which is usually a result of “creative block.” Ludwig van Beethoven spent 12 years composing his 9th “Choral” Symphony and was unable to write at other times, sometimes going months or years without having the inspiration to compose. Franz Schubert began writing 13 symphonies but only following through to complete 8, the final of which only has 2 movements and has been since dubbed “The Unfinished Symphony.”
The pressure to “produce” is so intense that people will try anything to make their deadline. For instance, Sergei Rachmaninoff, fed up with waiting for “the muse” to return, sought the help of a hypnotherapist, who apparently helped locate the missing muse (it was behind the fridge) and to whom Rachmaninoff's 2nd piano concerto was dedicated.
No fruity therapy for this skeptic. I'm content plodding along, banging my head on my laptop (*%@$#) until the column comes naturally, thank you very much. Ironically, my best work comes from being under a deadline. I concoct some swell stuff, like musical compositions, tax returns and the column I should be writing right now. Once the adrenaline and caffeine meet somewhere in the middle of my frontal lobe, I chain myself to the computer and accept a late night of frantic writing as the last minutes of my Monday deadline swirl around me.
Ok, time to get serious and write something before the full moon rises.