There you are, poised with your fingers in midair about to let loose a stream of wordy brilliance onto that A4 sheet of paper when all you can manage is a whimper of disbelief – you have lost the ability to write (shock, gasp)! No Oscar Wilde brilliance, no Pulitzer-standard words of wisdom, only just a quivering pen. Your brain has hit a veritable cul-de-sac. No more ideas, no more thoughts, no words, nothing. But regard this impotent period as just a bad day at the office. Striking fear into the hearts of writers everywhere is that specter known as – writer’s block. This is known as the inability to produce new work and it is a condition that varies in intensity. You, like all other writers, would have suffered or will suffer from this condition. Like hunger, it is inevitable.
You see, writer’s block may affect you for a plethora of reasons. Firstly, you may have run out of inspiration. This is something that is universal and the best way you can address this is to chill. Go for a jog, listen to some music, run off to your favorite restaurant (this is what I do), watch a movie or just take a nap. Do what works for you. This “time out” will get your brain to relax and will revitalize it later on for some real out-of-the-box thinking.
Secondly, one of the most common reasons why you may suffer from writer’s block is due to personal circumstances. You may be having issues with your career, personal life or your health. Whichever way you look at it we all got problems and we will continue to do so until hearts stop beating. The only way to get around this is to block problems out and find a space where you can work in peace. If home is not a conducive place for work, then arm yourself with your laptop and dongle and head on down to the nearest Coffee Bean or Barista. (Personally, I prefer the M. D. Gunasena down Vajira Road. Not only is it peaceful and quiet, you can indulge in coffee and donuts whenever you need that caffeine-sugar high. But this is my space, so I better not see you there.
Thirdly, you think your work is crap. Yet this may not be the actual case. When working on a project, you will realize that as long as you adhere to all the requirements set out, everything will fall into place. Don’t get too emotionally attached to your art form, just see it for what it is, which is just quality work. Stephen King, one of the most prolific writers of the modern era, compares writing to physical work. Once you strip away all the emotional complications that are attached to writing, you will find that it is an easy and enjoyable endeavor.
Last but not least, maybe it is your work space that is the issue. They do say that having a clear desk will help you have a clear mind. Indubitably, this would help you set things in order, and ideate and write more easily. Consider a few other writer-friendly tips as well. Ensure that you have good lighting and that your seat is comfortably placed so that you are not perched at an odd angle. Make sure that you computer screen is at eye level and that you do not have to strain your eyes up or down in order to see the screen.
Remember, if you do find yourself in a rut, you are not the only one. So before, you do drag out that cricket bat and start hammering your head silly, make sure you first consider all those tips expressed earlier
on. In most cases, writer’s block is a temporary condition and can be solved within a few hours. It is all part and parcel of being a writer, embrace it and go through the motions of getting over it.
If you are still feeling down, remember this – you are in hallowed company. Authors such as Leo Tolstoy, Virginia Woolf, William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway and a host of others have met face to face with writer’s block and given it a smarting slap.
I suggest that you do the same.
*Please note that this article has been published previously on the Writum blog.