Getting stuck is a ‘state of mind’. Words do not desert a writer, ideas and guts do. Stream of consciousness never dries up. The nib might get broken or blunted. Paper might begin soaking up ink. The bottle can leak, ink can become colourless. What gets flashed in the mind might not take shape on paper. Inordinate ambition might create hurdles impossible to cross. Block is a function of the personality traits of a particular writer, it is only as real and threatening as a spell of constipation.
“If you are stuck, all you’ve to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence you know.” That is all Earnest Hemingway had to say about writer’s block. Easy for him to say with his busybody lifestyle of a war journalist, an adventurer, a big game hunter, a connoisseur of good food and a keeper of choicest female company. How could he ever get stuck? Yet the same Hemingway, who wielded his pen variously as a staff, a needle, a lance and an injection, also confessed that “the most frightening thing he had ever encountered was a blank sheet of paper”. Hemingway firmly believed that the number of orgasms to be had in the course of a lifetime was limited, and that it was necessary to space them out. He never worried about ejaculation of words as much, drawing them out of himself with profligate abandon.
Jack Kerouac, On the Road, wrote candidly about blocks and blanks – “Write what you know.
The first though is the best thought.
Write what you want ‘bottomless’ from the bottom of the mind.”
A writer who is honest about recording his experiences won’t get stuck. Forget about creating timeless classics, contrivance cannot even create readable journalistic blogs. Thoughts and experiences, penned down with honesty, do not require mellifluous style to appeal to the readers. Besides, the reader is not even the point. He cannot be a factor while writing. If the pursuit is literary, it cannot be shaped by demand, only by supply. Let one publisher and my beloved read and soak in what have I written, and I would declare the write-up a success. Let no one find time or inclination for it, and I would celebrate the unburdening of my bosom.
Are you stuck in the middle, or do you have trouble in beginning the write-up?
Are you grappling with the style or do you not have a plot to move forward?
If you are on a plateau, you do have walking room on the table top, or can skid down.
If you are in no man’s land, every step is fraught with danger for there are landmines laid out everywhere. Yet these must exist a map somewhere to describe the fortress properly.
If you find you are stuck in horse latitudes, the Equatorial Belts of Calm, you need to rid yourself of the albatross round your neck that keeps you bogged. Without making this sacrifice, your pen shall not move forward. Acknowledging the existence of the albatross is the key. Honesty can go a long way in zeroing in on it. It can be a bird of habit, or some newly found fetish.
Is it the fear of being judged, criticized, analysed threadbare for what you write keeps you from writing? Is the desire to hold back so strong? If you really have such explosive powder with you that would engage the world, how dare you keep it to yourself? If you are too sensitive to get judged, wait till you are forced to bear the ignominy of being ignored. All attention is welcome, especially of the bad kind, since it also provokes reaction, and debates.
And finally, Charles Bukowski enjoys the last word –
“If it doesn’t come roaring out of you in spite of everything, don’t do it.”
What’s the urgency, I ask. Koi majburi hai kya? One can try masonry if words refuse to do the bidding, or your feet or fingers are made of clay. There is no compulsive humanitarian need to write. Libraries are already too full of unread volumes. Make a tik tok reel instead!
“There is nothing to stop a man from writing unless that man stops himself. If a man truly desires to write, then he will.” Excuses vanish when a man decides. Pen follows the will. Pages get filled by intent. Can the laptop keys refuse to get tapped upon? Worn-down batteries, burnt chips and non-working keyboards get replaced within hours if the word-pressure is too high. What has to gush out, shall force its way.
It is best to end the piece with another Bukowski line, because after this, he makes it impossible to go on.
“Writing about writer’s block is better than not writing at all.”
There it is, the cure for all blocks, blanks and clogged tanks.
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