Writer’s block. The bane of my, and many others like me, existence. Some part of me that is usually functioning and flowing like a spinning wheel has stopped turning. The words aren’t coming. The ideas aren’t there. It’s like being lost in the middle of a forest with no map, no one to turn to, and nowhere to be, except this loss is within myself. My brain won’t cooperate with me, and the one thing I can always rely on-- writing-- is failing me. I am stuck.
The problem with writer’s block is not that you think you will never write again. Writers always know that this is just a period they have to get through, a part of the process, but that knowledge somehow makes it worse. You sit there, waiting and waiting for the spark of inspiration, but it’s humid outside and you have no flint and you haven’t seen civilization within 100 miles. You’re left sitting in the dark.
So we writers attempt to turn to the world around us. Nature, family, friends, or our favorite books and movies are all good places to start. But when what you normally depend on for motivation just doesn’t help you that day, you fall even further into this void of nothingness. You can’t trust your own brain or your loyal loved ones. You are an empty shell of what you once were.
Sometimes when writer’s block gets bad enough, we just spill words onto a page and hope for something great to present itself. I know what you’re thinking, and no, that is not exactly what I’m doing right now.
Okay, maybe it is.
But you can’t blame me. Everything I’ve ever fallen back on has proven unfaithful, dubious, dicey. Even my tried and true bedside notebook kept for 2 am bursts of thought has decided to stop speaking to me. So now I’m left speaking to myself.
I would go for a run, but it’s dark outside. I would just put off writing for later, but I have deadlines to meet. The time is now, but I have nothing to say.
It’s a strange feeling, to be silenced by your own words.
Writers try to find meaning in everything. They don’t see; they observe. When I see a leaf falling from a tree and I decide to write about it, I want to be able to pour out a rushing cascade of words about that dead plant, a stream of letters so empowering yet so haunting that my readers will be left breathless. The days I cannot leave others breathless with my words, it feels like I am not breathing at all.
And so it goes. Writer’s block is a not much of a feeling but more of a state, a state that no one should ever have to live in. The void has consumed me, and I must find a way to escape. It seems I must crawl on my stomach, scraping inch by inch, scaling the walls of nothingness until I see a light.
Or maybe this was all I needed -- to turn nothing into something, a struggle for words into an adventure. Maybe right now I am wandering through a stream of consciousness that means nothing, a thought process that leads to nowhere, a river of words that are a dead end, but as J.R.R. Tolkien wisely proposed, “Not all who wander are lost.” Sometimes we just have to take the long way ‘round.