Friday, November 19, 2004

Writer's Block

In my discussion forum, a poster recently asked the same question many of you ask via e-mail: What happens when you get writer's block?"

If you read Candorville, you may know that writer's block is Lemont Brown's constant nemesis. Lemont should have been a cartoonist. Comic strips, by necessity, are self-contained stories told in about four panels. If, like me, you like to mix things up and occasionally tell longer stories, then each day still needs to make sense as a self-contained chapter within that story. There usually isn't room for more than a single observation, or for the introduction of more than a single theme within the context of one comic strip. As our illustrious leader would say, "it's hard work" to do that day in and day out in sickness and in health, and still make it funny or meaningful -- or on a good day, both. But the one advantage this medium has over longer form writing is that it's easier to overcome writer's block.

It's been my experience that in the cartoon world, where what you're going for is a single gem of an idea each day, writer's block is simply your mind telling you it's time to get up from the drawing board and go talk to another living person. Ask how her day went, then go home and add a punchline. But change the names to protect the innocent.

If only Lemont knew how to draw...



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