A writer’s block is like having an awkward and intense conversation with a loved one about where the relationship is going. If there is too much to lose, you must find a way to make eye-contact and work things out. When the path seems long and winding, you feel paralyzed. You want to believe in what Hemingway said.
So, you sit down to bleed. But your scars refuse to leak. No matter how many scabs you pick, only dry air and dust surfaces.
There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed – Ernest Hemingway
I have experienced writing blocks several times. It has affected me, both personally and professionally. At times, it took me weeks to get back into the groove. While going through it, recuperation seems like a never-ending journey. It is worse if you write for a living. You cannot walk away. At best, you go on a vacation to put some distance between yourself and the writing process.
The bad news is that it depends on your employer. If self-employed, you have to fight with your content delivery schedule. And once again, you are helpless, like an air ventilator caught in the eye of a hurricane. The good news is that you do not need anyone’s assistance to overcome the storm.
The next time you are stumped for words, firstly — do not panic.
A writer’s block affects newbies and veterans alike.
It is not as though you have forgotten or lost the art of writing or coming up fulfilling ideas to expand upon. You are going through a phase. Keep your wits about you, and it will end soon.
Secondly, shut down your laptop. Put the notebook and pen away. You are not constipated for words. You cannot make a face and unclench to push them out of your system.
What may help is stepping back and asking yourself : “What is really bothering me?”
I have not spoken to enough writers to come up with an accurate consensus on the most likely answers. I can merely speculate based on my personal experiences of helping a handful of writers get over their writing blocks.
Nine times out of 10, the answer had little to do with writing.
Because a writer’s block, in several cases, is a scream to resolve internal conflict. You may want to think inwardly to figure out if there anything else bothering you to the point of inaction. I realize it can be 100 different things at any given moment. To avoid an unnecessarily long recap, shortlist the matters which demand urgent resolutions and then, hierarchize the amount of space they occupy in your head.
Now, switch on your laptop. Get the pen and paper.
Go ahead and jot down your life’s problems.
I am not going to patronize you by pretending to know how to fix your life. I am not your therapist or your friend. I am just a 38-year-old writer who has tried it before. I can only hope it works for you too. Even if it does not, you might give yourself a much-needed reality check to alleviate a tiny bit of stress. If it ends up adding more weight, here is “a foolproof guide to making an effective voodoo doll.”
It is not easy to stare your problems, especially when they stare back at you.
Do not look away. Do not worry about solving them. Just look.
Alright then, delete it or throw it in the bin.
Has anything changed?
Have any of those problems started to go airborne?
Of course not.
You know what else has not changed?
Your ability to express yourself through words. It is not going anywhere. Even if items keep getting added to your list of problems, you will remain a writer.
A writer’s block is a scream to resolve conflicts. You should come to terms with the fact that things do not go according to your plan all the time. And you will be amazed at how many people, across the world, feel the same way.
Unresolved internal conflicts create writing blocks, like financial challenges or social constraints do. Lucky for you, even accepting can put you on the path to recovery. It may not be a giant leap. Hopefully, it is a baby step, at least, in the right direction.
Writing is not a gateway to a better life or a healthier mindset. It is an essential part of what we do with our lives because it invariably shapes our perspectives and influences our personalities.
There are precious few excuses to lose grip. Dealing with life’s issues, inside our heads, is not one.
How dare we allow it when we brush our teeth, without thinking twice, on the day of attending the funeral of our dearly departed.
Writing is about telling stories.
Unless you have been living under a rock, literally, you probably have enough material to write about. You do not need to travel from Timbuktu to Tirunelveli to discover your writing voice. It does help to immerse yourself in new experiences and strange places, but those are not the only ways. Wherever you are, find the inspiration to craft engaging perspectives.
There is a good chance a few may be floating inside your head.
A person often meets his destiny on the road he took to avoid it – Jean de La Fontaine
I do not intend to provide any further information on finding themes to write about. The Internet is full of them. If you really think about it, I have told you stuff that you already know.
Basically, I just urged you to stop getting in the way of your writing process.
I made you read nearly a thousand words before getting here because it took me almost a decade.
Good luck in braving one more walk along the edge of Occam’s Razor. This time, though, make those baby steps count for the writer in you.
(Featured Image by Silvia)