One of my friends mentioned writer’s block the other day and since I've had a spell of it these last few months, I thought I should reach into my heart and pull out the best advice I have for this horrible condition. I say horrible, because as writers, words are to flow from our head onto the computer screen like honey from a hive. Anyway, let’s say we’re stuck and can’t think of anything to write. The blank page stares back and the cursor flashes like a train coming at us in the middle of the night. We need to scramble off the tracks and figure out what to say, what to write and communicate with those who are waiting to hear from us. Easy, right? Okay, well maybe not. Sometimes we’re stuck in some sort of quicksand that sucks the life right out of us—pulling us deeper and deeper down—farther and farther away from any signs of intelligent life.
1. At this point, you might feel like a chimpanzee. If you jump on the keyboard and hit all the letters, simultaneously something wonderful will happen or you’ll just jam your computer. This is the point where you need to come to terms with your ‘condition’. Acceptance is crucial, because computer repair can get expensive. (Trust me, I know this from experience.) Ignoring this deficiency will not heal or improve anything. It is time to face the facts and come to terms with your blockage.
2. Your first course of action might be to seek out nourishment. You need food--chocolate covered bananas, barbecued chicken pizza and coconut cream pie—perhaps giant burgers dripping with cheese? Now that you’re satiated, the words should come but instead you have an ache in your gut and it’s moving towards your heart. Once writer’s block gets deep inside of you, it’s called something else—ever hear of constipation? Sorry, but it’s true—food isn't the answer.
3. How about music? Would the spiritual music your grandmother enjoys help pull the emotion from your soul? Does rock and roll distract you with memories of times you’d rather not talk about and certainly don’t want to write down? Will soothing music inspire you or put you to sleep? Will singers and lyrics push you to write things you didn't intend to write? Don’t rely on music because it can sway you in various directions like the wind.
4. Booze? Is losing all your inhibitions a good idea? Will you create prose and poetry like never before? Perhaps you will write the best stuff but is that the side you want to portray to the entire world? I suppose if it’s good enough for Bukowski and Hemingway it’s good enough for the rest of us but it isn't my first choice to tackle writer’s block. Furthermore, it would lull me to sleep. Yawn. Not only is it impossible to create something while sleeping but also the hangover the following day doesn't help either.
5. Illegal Substances—Might spark something for a short time and this is an uncomfortable and dangerous ditch for those who have made a bad decision. Anxious for an original idea, but too miserable to realize the consequences, this choice can work, but can also kill you. Forget being desperate, because there is hope. Don’t do it.
My recommendation is to put a controversial word on that blank page. Stare at it as long as you want until you begin adding related words. It may look like a modern poem at first but soon something should evolve. If you can’t think of more words to add, then leave it alone for a few hours to steep like a teabag in a pot of warm water. The word will brew in your head and when you return, words should fall like stars onto your creation. If not, return to step one.