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Writing with a Writer's Block

Sonal Panse,
I once dreamed I was stranded on a lonely road on a dark, stormy night, listening to the approaching footfalls of an evil ogre, and I waited for imminent disembowelment in silence, because I couldn't think of a thing to scream. 

I was, of course, going through an aggravated phase of writer's block. 

It is a frightening, loss-of-self feeling, like I'm fading away into a wordless wall. Of course, some people might argue that this is just active imagination. There is no such thing as a writer's block. There is just a writer who won't write.

There's some truth to that. 

Writing is an intellectual process. Good writing is achieved through clear thinking. A writer's block often occurs when there is a lack of clarity. There can be many different reasons for this – you're tired, you're overworked, you're ill, you're depressed, you're disinterested, and so on – but, basically, it boils down to the fact that your thinking process has fogged over.

You're not able to think clearly and the idea of muddling along doesn't appeal or suddenly seems downright scary, and you end up not writing at all.

I heard about a writer who was unable to write for years on end. It was a worse case than mine and she made the most of it by talking all over the place about it. She never appears to have had a talking block, and I thought, all this lady had to do was record her talk and then transcribe it herself or, if that made her too ill, to have someone do it for her. 

I tried it on my sister the other day and now she's suffering from a writer's cramp.

Anyway, so we blocked writers, we do actually have many options. You can don the mantle of great tragedy, and ask for love and understanding. You can wallow in self-pity, complain vocally, and bore people with your specific symptoms. You can turn community-minded and commiserate with other sufferers. You can wait at your window for the muse to return.

Or, better yet, you can give yourself a good shaking and get on with things. I've found that it helps to establish a schedule and write in that time whether you feel like it or not. This means muddling along, even if it means lowering your standards and writing utter rot.

I'm serious. If you can't write sense, it makes sense to write nonsense. It can always be altered, deleted, or saved as entertaining tripe to amuse and inspire you the next time you're stuck. The constant aiming for perfection is often one of the reasons that many writers block. They try to write that brilliant prose all at once, quite forgetting that wonderful thing called 'rewrite' that fills a writer's life with second, third, and innumerable more chances.

The other thing to do is to perhaps cut back on your Internet usage. The Internet is of course a fascinating treasure trove of information and inspiration for a writer, but therein lies the rub. While you do get your noodle around an extraordinary amount of facts, theories, and opinions, you also lose out on valuable time for the introspection necessary to carry out your own writing. 

Writing, like I mentioned, requires thinking. If you keep tracking other people's thoughts, you find yourself trotting along a trodden path. It gets you where they went, not to that new place you wanted to reach. You might as well stay blocked.