It’s a rainy day. One might think that a rainy day lends itself well for writing. But I have struggled with writing in the last week. I don’t think that writing should always flow, sometimes it is an effort, other times you just need to sit and do it. Occasionally, however, it does flow without much effort. Yet, I find it intriguing when ‘writer’s block’ visits you. Writer’s block is usually not about writing, not necessarily anyway. At least that’s my opinion. The first and biggest one I had was while doing my doctorate a few years ago. It was a summertime and I needed to write, but I couldn’t. I was stuck. I spoke with one of my supervisors and something quite unrelated to my studies had surfaced while we spoke. I had something on my mind that I didn’t know how to deal with and it was distracting me, creating a blockage if you like. He told me, “Can you park that thought for now and come back to it at a later stage? You don’t need to deal with it now”. Yes, I could. That helped. I got so caught up with something which showed itself ‘very important’ that I was not able to think properly about my studies. As soon as I decided to let go of that thought, ‘to park it’, as soon as I decided not to engage with it at that stage, I regained peace. And later on it didn’t seem so important after all.
I am not sure if it would be fair to say that I encountered another writer’s block in the last week. It probably isn’t that serious to let it have this ‘profound name’. But I have been avoiding writing about something. I wanted to write an opinion piece on something that is quite relevant in Ireland at this time, but I was scared to put my thoughts on the paper and so I avoided writing. Again, I have no problem with writing, see, I am doing it. It is something external that has been on my mind, something that I have been hearing about quite a lot, but not something that I have been vocal about. And so it created a ‘blockage’. Not being able to put it into words is affecting me, or rather not having courage to do so. My view would not be popular, and my desire to be sensitive on the topic has prevented me from saying anything on it at all, so far.
I have been doing a writing course here on the blog called Writing 101. Every day in the last month those of us who took part would get a prompt what to write about. One day recently it said, “Your voice will find you”. My voice. It immediately triggered thoughts about this area where I have no voice. It took me a few days to write about that prompt, and naturally, I wrote about something ‘unthreatening’ and nothing too challenging. Then a few days after another prompt said, “We all have anxieties, worries, and fears. What are you scared of? Address one of your worst fears”. Ha. Skip. No way will I write about that. I am too scared to write about that. But I wrote the whole piece in my head already, it’s just not on the paper yet. And even if I write it on the paper, I mean on the computer, I don’t need to ‘publish it’ on the blog. Right? Then came another prompt: “Today is a free writing day. Write at least four-hundred words, and once you start typing, don’t stop. No self-editing, no trash-talking, and no second guessing: just go. Bonus points if you tackle an idea you’ve been playing with but think is too silly to post about”. I can do that. In fact, I just did that. It’s like going around your writer’s block, instead of addressing it head on. In other words, it’s like working in the garden when all of a sudden you come against a big stone that you cannot move. Writer’s block would tell you how this is a reason to stop writing. But I think that you can keep gardening, keep writing, just around the stone. There is a good old Northern Irish saying, “Whatever you say, say nothing”, say nothing about the stone (if that is where the blockage is coming from), but you can still write about the garden. For now.
© Iva Beranek (Dublin, 2nd May 2015)
Photo by © Iva Beranek