Friday, April 10, 2009

Being Stuck on a Word (Facebook discussion topic)

L. V. Gaudet is hosting today's discussion on "Being Stuck on a Word" on the Facebook group Second Wind Publishing LLC.

Being Stuck on a Word

What writer has not struggled with something at some point? Perhaps you have struggled with tying up those loose ends of a story, grappled with how to not end up killing off your favourite character, or arm wrestled your muse.

For me, perhaps the most frustrating moments of literary struggle is that interminable moment where your mind goes suddenly blank, your eyes seem as though they should be glazing over, and your heart (which is your writing) thuds to a rather sudden stop as you sit there frozen in time and space reaching for that elusive something that you just can’t quite grasp. It is there, beyond the horizon of that next key stroke of the keyboard, teasing and just beyond your mind’s reach.

If even for that briefest of moments, you are stuck, mind locked, trapped in that dead zone of literary nothingness, the muse graveyard...

You are...

Stuck on a Word.

Whether you voice it out loud or not, your mind calls out with the dreaded call of the writer … “Aaaugghhh! What’s that word!? I need *the* word!”

What writer has not experienced this phenomenon at some point? You know, that terrible feeling that *the* perfect word is out there somewhere. It has a feel, almost as vibrant as if it had life of its own; perhaps you think you can even almost taste it. You can feel that word with every fibre of your being, and yet it stays teasingly just beyond your grasp.

Your mind tosses out word after word, words with the same or a similar meaning but they just don’t *feel* right, or words with a completely different meaning but your gut insists have a similar sound. To your great frustration none of these words *feel* right.

Your fingers might rush to your online thesaurus, or you might grab your handy dandy “old reliable”, that always present standby large dictionary who’s predecessors you grew up with and learned to rely on for everything from checking your spelling (in those dark ages when dinosaurs roamed, hungry wolves bayed at your door in the frozen dead of winter, and you had no computer or Spell Check in your home), to discovering the meaning of *that word*, or searching for that elusive word that starts with “x”, which can’t be that elusive since there are only about 32 “x” words, depending on your dictionary.

Or perhaps you might feel the urge to call out seemingly random words to your loved ones in hopes they’ll give you the perfect word, while they look at you with that special expression reserved for pondering the clinically insane.

Sometimes you find that perfect word, and sometimes you regretfully settle for something less, a word with the right meaning but that just doesn’t feel *right* in your writer’s heart.

How do you deal with finding that ever elusive perfect word, the one that is the only word that *feels* right for your story, but your mind simply can’t seem to reach far enough to grasp?

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