I write and sometimes I sketch. I know people who scult or photograph or make movies. Ok, the last one is not true; if I knew people who made movies I would have inveigled myself a minor role in a street scene.
But the point I am trying to make is that all us creative types hit blocks ever so often. My personal period of lethargy, ennui and couldn’t-care-less attitude, coupled with mindless snacking and binge watching TV comes around sometimes and there is a real effort involved in getting back to being creative and productive.
My personal quest lasts nearly 6 days. Your’s might be shorter or longer but here is how it typically goes.
Day 1: Start the day with a renewed vigour and a strong resolution to finally get back to doing what I am mediocre at but want to get best at. Writing!
So, with everything done for the morning, I take out my notebook and the pencils and the highlighter pens. There are post-it notes spread around strategically on the writing table. I like the notebook over the electronic writing because I often visualise the untidy and cluttered desks of geniuses.
It takes nearly an hour to get things looking right, after which I start the process of penning down the masterpiece that I was born to write.
Except that…nothing. Nothing comes to mind and nothing looks good when put down on paper. Words look unfamiliar and sentences look disjointed. After long minutes or hours of doodling and day dreaming I decide to call it a day. At least, I have made a beginning.
Day 2: Today is the day I feel I would be better in charge. So, the table laying is quicker for I have done it just the day before. I am optimistic and cheerfully put pen to paper. The outpouring seems more natural and I seem to be writing faster when the phone rings.
I have a long heart to heart with a friend and before I know it, the writing time has slithered away like a snake while I was whittling away time. I might be mixing the metaphors but atleast the metaphors are coming. A little progress, it seems.
There is now only very little time left and I decide to do a quick search on the internet for writing prompts and inspiration. A couple of hours later, I get dressed to get to the local supermarket to get the plastic spoons for making the DIY chandelier that I chanced upon Pinterest. Am I repeating words and thoughts today? Could be, but atleast the thoughts are flowing. Besides, getting involved in a craft and decorating activity would help me snap out of the ennui.
Day 3: It seems I got out of the bed from the wrong side. I feel lethargic and groggy, not unlike the lethargy of a non creative soul. I make myself a huge cup of coffee and settle down with some easy reading. Reading is supposed to kick-start the brain, just as caffeine kickstarts the body. I get engrossed in the book, the double dose seems to be working. But, the easy romance read gets me down the black hole of speed reading and skimming without giving me the feel of the language or the plot or the pace.
Reading this way feels like a high calorie snack without the nutrients of a wholesome meal.
The inspired writing time dissolves into insipid reading time. Nothing fires up my imagination and there is nothing profound that I can write.
Day 4: I dread my writing time. After three unsuccessful days, I am sure deep down in my mind that this is going to be another disaster.
My subconscious conjures up a list of ‘urgent’ tasks and I go out shopping in a frenzy. The shopping trolley looks like I am stocking for an upcoming party or in anticipation of shortages or a natural disaster.
The putting away of the stuff takes up the rest of the day and I feel productive. If not in writing, then in other areas of life. However, a discomfort gnaws at me and through the non talking, non reading and repetitive chores, I find myself answering to a little voice, soft and gentle, questioning me on my priorities and reminding me of my dreams.
The voice gets stronger and I realise that the reason I don’t feel alive and happy is because I am not doing what I love to do. The feeling stays and it seems that the next day would have a different flavour.
Day 5: My lucky day! Or so it seems. The fifth try of anything seems lucky to me and I usually crack the code at this time. I chuck the writing paraphernalia and start writing out lists. Then I jot down a couple of rhyming lines. I write the description of a picture I have taken the day before; of setting sun and palm fronds. I feel the words building up. I describe how I liked last week’s restaurant hunt and the ensuing delicious finds at an unlikely place. I write a letter to a friend I talk to regularly but I write the things that I gloss over in our conversations. I ask her and I tell her the things that are inconvenient and embarassing. I pour out my words with compassion and a genuine love.
Feeling those emotions opens up the floodgates inside me and I find so many things that I want to say and share through my writing.
Day 6: I wait for the writing time impatiently and when there is no other sound except those of the birds and the raindrops falling on the tin roofs, I can write and express myself the way I have wanted to and dreamt of.
The pursuit of a creative endeavour brings happiness and contentment.
Please share how you get around your writing block and what does the process look like?