Writing is hard. Not as hard as not writing. Not writing is tortuous, bloody, chaotic and a gruesome winless battle. A writer who writes, knows peace, lives connected to truth. Not writing is ache, betrayal, death of the soul and imagination.”
– Coco J. Ginger
I should have written this piece last week. Oh, who’s kidding who? Last month. But every time I sat down to write, I quickly abandoned ship (sheet), and easily found something else more interesting. I even cleaned my house one day, rather than attempt to write an article. For those who know me, cleaning is not my favourite pastime. Not that I live in filth, it’s just that usually there are far more appealing things for me to do…like write.
Let me make this clear: I am not procrastinating; “To put off doing something, especially out of habitual carelessness or laziness, or to postpone or delay needlessly (Wikipedia).”
I WANT to write. I have been TRYING to write. There are a lot of amazing events and people that I could be writing about; so, it’s not for lack of material. It is simply a lack of being able to take the thoughts that are carelessly circulating around my mind and place them on paper in any remotely intelligent or interesting way.
Yes, what I am talking about is writer’s block – “a usually temporary psychological inability to begin or continue work on a piece of writing (thank you again, Wikipedia).”
I love to write… ninety percent of the time. But every so often, the words or thoughts do not flow all that easily, or not at all. Such was the case this past month. Many times, instead of reviewing a page of newly written words, I was staring at a white screen and a cursor; flash…flash…flash. I spent a lot of time with that cursor; on one occasion, counting it flash up to 323 times. That’s 5 minutes and 23 seconds (just to let you know) that I will never get back. That seems somewhat inconsequential, but multiply that number by each day in the month, and it starts to add up quite quickly. At the end of it all, every day, I just shut down the computer program; no need to save any changes because…there weren’t any.
Writer’s block does not discriminate, nor should it simply be called writer’s block. Anybody, regardless of their career choice, can experience a professional roadblock: educators, lawyers, researchers, advertisers, and architects. Everyone gets stuck once in a while, and feels uninspired or indifferent, with respect to focusing on what is at hand. I bet that even history professors suffer from the occasional creative frustration…and their lesson plan is pretty much already written!
This isn’t the first time that I have combated writer’s block (and I can’t imagine that it will be the last). I know how to counter this obstacle. There are specific things that I do which alleviate my creative impasses.
Exercise and nature, for example, are a sure fire combination for me. Physical activity usually propels me to think outside of the proverbial box. I run outdoors every day for close to an hour. It is similar to meditation in terms of helping to arrange and articulate my thoughts. On many occasions I will return home after a run and frantically search for a pen and a piece of paper to jot down the numerous interesting ideas that surfaced during my workout. This month, that…didn’t…help.
Writer’s block does have some advantages, though. Things that I have accomplished while not being able to construct a sentence this past month:
1. My house and car are clean.
2. I reached level 30 on BrickBreaker, with a high score of 14380.
3. My nails are perfectly filed.
4. My hair is cut (although I did that myself one evening, so that might not necessarily be a good thing).
5. I now know all the neighbours on the block.
6. I’m completely current on the entire newest season of Arrested Development.
7. I finished a 533 page biography on the life of Leonard Cohen, entitled, “I’m Your Man.”
Here’s the good thing, though: my writer’s block shall pass. Everyone’s does…eventually. In fact, during the last couple of days, I have already started working on a number of potential stories for subsequent articles. When I think back on this past month and the time that I spent not writing, I find solace in the wise words (and the voluminous sentences) of Charles Bukowski;
“Writing about a writer’s block is better than not writing at all.”
Well penned, Mr. Bukowski, well penned.