The Work-Induced Writer’s Block

 

I like to write.  It’s kind of a strange thing I feel.  I don’t normally seek to have my work read.  Usually, anything creative I make is for my eyes alone, or that of a small group of close friends.  I don’t really crave an audience for my work, but I like to write anyway.  I like to create worlds, characters, and stories, I like putting my thoughts into words, I like slipping blatant remarks about how good I look into blocks of text, and I like taking what’s in my mind and giving it a more permanent form.  It’s an activity I find very engaging, and it really gives me a lot of fulfillment.

Sometimes, I have to do a lot of writing for my job.  And not the fun kind of writing.  I’m not in the right industry for that.  I get to do a lot of writing for foundation grants, government paperwork, and various other pieces of bureaucratic necessity.  And lately, it’s been hitting the time of year where it seems that all I’m doing for eight hours a day is stare at a word processor while my fingers numbly type words onto the screen.  In small amounts, I don’t mind it.  It’s just part of the job, and while it may not be the most fun thing to do, it’s something that’s well within my abilities.  The problems only come up when I’m spending hours upon hours of doing that.  Is it possible to get writing fatigue?  If so, it feels like that’s what I have.  After a long enough time of being forced to write the most droll things imaginable, it gets to the point where I’m just numbly typing words onto the screen.  I lose the feeling of a good piece of prose just being “right” for the idea I’m trying to get across, and anything I type feels dull, bland, and just slightly off the mark of what I was trying to convey, no matter how good the work actually is upon review.

The worst part is, this feeling follows me home.  Writing too much at work leaves me too burnt out to do any quality writing for enjoyment.  Just yesterday, I was working on one of the large blog posts I have planned, and I had to can most everything I did because it all feels just slightly wrong.  I have been putting too many words on the page over the past week, and they’re all starting to run together in my head.  It’s not a problem with ideas, I know exactly what I’m wanting to get down.  It’s a problem with finding the words.  Everything I write just seems to fail at getting the idea across.

I know I’m not alone in this problem.  Talking to others, I’ve heard several accounts of people just writing too much of the wrong thing, and not being able to mentally switch tracks back to what they really want to write.  What do you do about it, though?  That’s one thing I haven’t heard a solid answer to.  Me?  Apparently, I write blog posts about writer’s block.  Let’s see if that fixes anything.

When Writers Get it Wrong: Interpretation and Authorial Intent

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Every form of art, every bit of media, every story told, it all relies on the reader’s interpretation. That’s just how these things work. Everyone has their own personal lens through which they view these things. Stories do have different depths, of course. Something like George Orwell’s Animal Farm is meant to be analyzed at a far deeper level than the average Jason Statham face-kicking action movie. They both still require interpretation to get their point across to the viewer. Every artist has to leave it up to the viewer to interpret why it’s OK for Jason Statham to kick all those faces off, why his face-kicking cause is a noble one, and why kicking everyone’s face is going to help him achieve his goals. Thing is, it’s impossible to tell how one random person is going to read things. Everyone has their own unique set of experiences, preferences, morals, etc., and that colors they way they absorb this sort of stuff. Everyone’s going to read a story just a little bit differently. All the artist can do is put their content up there and hope the viewer is going to read it the way they expect.

Stories are what the reader reads, not what the writer writes. That’s just the way they work. The writer can use all the pretty prose and flowery phrases available to them when writing the perfect content to get across their point, but no matter how well crafted they are, words on paper are still just words on paper until the reader absorbs them. And readers don’t always read things the way the author intends. Those pesky consumers are always applying their own perspectives to what the artist lays out. It’s a beautiful thing, though. That’s what makes morals hit home, makes art more than just ink on a page or lights on a screen, makes stories apply to you personally. But what happens if the writer intends one thing, and you see another? Or what if the filmmaker intends something simple, while you find something deep and grandiose?

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What Games Bring to the Table-the Downsides

Hey, do you remember this post and this post where we talked about the advantages video games had with storytelling?  Those were pretty awesome times, right?  Talking all about the ways narrative was improved within our favorite medium, and only getting a little distracted with me mentioning how good I look all the time.  Well, we weren’t finished with our discussion there.  Every medium has both advantages and disadvantages when presenting a story.  Video games are no different.  I know, I know, it’s hard to discuss and read bad stuff about stuff we all love and negativity sucks in general, but I think it’s worth discussing the challenges a lot of games face when presenting a story.  So, below the jump, lets talk a bit about the disadvantages video games have when telling their tales, and what developers are doing to overcome these challenges.

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What Games Bring to the Table, Pt. 2

Here’s part 2 of the wildly popular series!  Part 1 is over here.  Or you could, you know, just scroll down a little bit.  It’s like, right there.

Last time we covered how games have unique potential to immerse the player, how games have the advantage of a really flexible span of time in which to execute their tale, and how both of those enhance a game’s ability to tell you its story.  Today, we’re going to go over three more advantages video games have when telling its story.  What are they?  Oh, I can’t wait to find out!  Join me after the jump, and we’ll see together!

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