Usually you tend to consider the writer’s block like an obstacle that prevents you from putting down on page your ideas. Or even an obstacle that prevents you from having any fruitful ideas in the first place.
In the first case, you can usually overcome your writer’s block in several different ways.
- Go for a walk.
- Have some coffe or a cappuccino.
- Do some sport, like running or cycling.
- Reduce distractions.
- Read a book.
- Listen to music.
- Try to stick to a routine.
- Force yourself to write anyway, no matter how shitty your writing is going to be.
- Cook a meal.
- Chop wood.
All these solutions can help. And many others as well. But sometimes the dreadful writer’s block you’re experiencing is just the way your body, your subconscious, has to tell you to stop a moment.
What can really be a writer’s block
After all, even if writing can be an exhilarating and deeply rewarding activity, it is also an act that requires a long term committment and a continuous effort.
So if one day you discover you’re suffering from the writer’s block, maybe it’s so simply because you’re empty.
This word, empty, usually bears negative connotations. Something empty can be barren, dull, hollow. You feel empty when you’re depressed. And on and on.
But when it comes to writing this emptiness can also represent an occasion. In fact it’s only when a vessel is empty that it is ready to be refilled with new material.
So, instead of feeling low and depressed because you strive to write even a single damn sentence–and then end up anyway deleting it–you’d be better off taking some days off from any writing obligation and focusing on replenishing yourself, the vessel, with new experiences, new feelings and sensations.
Writing is paying attention
To do so you don’t have to fly to the other side of the world. You don’t have to climb the Himalaya or dig a well in the desert. You aren’t even required to change the way you usually dress.
The only thing you need is to keep yourself as open and responsive as possible to what is around you. The place you live in, the people you live with, the strangers you meet every day on your way to work. Things like these.
You need to let all these things percolate into your life, a drop at a time.
For example. I’m sitting at a table in a bar, having a cappuccino and enjoying myself. I’m staring out a large window, at the park beyond it. Then a leaf falls from a tree. It whirls in the wind for a couple of seconds and then hits the window. The leaf sticks to the glass. It’s colorful and yet it’s dying. It clings there like a northern star, stark against the changing sky of this September afternoon.
Then I overhear a conversation. It’s a couple, and they are arguing. About a job offer. To take it or not? Her voice is shrill and fast. His a low rumble of pent up anger.
Meanwhile, the radio is playing an old piece by The Alan Parson Project, the Gold Bug. And a Jack Russell yaps expectantly at its owner–a young woman chatting at the counter.
When you take this in, you don’t know what to do of it. Of course you don’t. But if you pay attention and store it away, you can be sure that all these details will ferment and become wine when the time comes.
Like a diligent wine-maker you just have to harvest a bunch of grape at a time. And then let time operates its magic. The only magic we humans can understand.