A Cure for Writer's Block
Community Chronicle, November 2021
A Cure for Writer’s Block
By Jeffree Wyn Itrich
Ernest Hemingway nailed it when he wrote “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”
And that, my friends, is what this past month has been like. I have rarely ever experienced writer’s block. In fact, I can’t recall ever having it. I guess I’ve been lucky, because countless writers have, big ones, famous ones, iconic ones - like Hemingway. Yet, here I am and I am not the least bit proud of joining this elite club of writers who bleed in front of a laptop. It’s embarrassing! Writing isn’t all that difficult. I mean, it’s not like brain surgery or jet propulsion or quantum physics. Nope, it’s just putting one word in front of another. And yet, my brain is stuck.
I decided that the best way to “unstick” my brain is to follow some advice I’ve given to others when they’ve experienced this common writer's malady. As I went through my recommendations list I realized that these suggestions can work for any number of situations such as procrastination, anxiety, feeling unmotivated for whatever reason, exhaustion, boredom, you name it. If you need to get “unstuck,” you might try one or more. They work, that is, if you let them.
1.Change your environment. I don’t mean move to Portugal like one friend is doing who is disgusted with the current political climate. I mean, get out of the house or out of the office or out of wherever you are. Go for a walk, a long one, preferably in a beautiful place with great scenery, birds singing, and maybe a laughing child or two. Or listen for a mockingbird. Their voices can unstick a brain faster than a jackrabbit barreling down a backroad. If you live on a ranch, get on a horse. Nothing clears the mind better than riding a horse and letting breezes wash through your hair.
2.Get out of your culinary comfort zone. Eat or drink something out of the ordinary, for you at least. Try something new. If you’re a chicken-fried steak kind of person, have a Greek salad, or eat some shrimp scampi, or if you’re up for something more unusual, find a sushi joint and order some unagi (grilled eel.) You won’t believe what you’ve been missing until you try it. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.
3. Or you can do something a little less daring like replacing your usual lunch or dinner with a visit to an ice cream parlor and ordering an ice cream sundae. Load it up with whipped cream, fudge syrup, nuts and as many maraschino cherries as you like. By your second bite, whatever is bothering you will move into your brain’s caboose while you recall fond memories of eating ice cream sundaes with friends and family. It’s a proven fact that it is extremely hard to stay in a funk while eating ice cream. I know it’s true because I read it on the Internet. I think Abraham Lincoln said it. Or maybe it was George Washington or Socrates. Anyway, it’s true.
4.Call up an old friend, perhaps someone you haven’t talked to in a long time. Check in, find out how your friend is doing. Reminisce a bit about old times. It may very well be that your friend has been in a similar state of mind and could use a little cheering up.
5.In that same vein of doing something nice for a friend, call your favorite charity (or find one that appeals to you if you don’t have one) and volunteer to help out. Nothing clears the mind and lifts the spirit better than helping others. With the holidays upon us there are plenty of opportunities. For example, you can deliver Thanksgiving Meals on Wheels, help prepare and serve Thanksgiving dinner at a shelter, offer to babysit a neighbor's kids to give mom and dad a chance to go toy shopping, or simply enjoy a date night. If your neighbor is a single parent, even better! If your local rest home is not shut down by Covid, volunteer to visit seniors who don’t have any family either in the area, or at all. They have great stories to tell, and listening to them will clear your mind of whatever is bothering you. It’s pretty hard to feel sorry for yourself when sitting with someone in need of someone to talk to, someone who will listen. The holidays are one of the worst times for lonely seniors.
The whole point of these exercises is to get out of your head, because it’s your head that’s dragging you down. Trust me, I know. I spend entirely too much time in mine. Of course, it’s easier said than done when you’re sitting at home, surrounded by whatever is causing you stress or simply boring you to death. That’s why you need to go out and do something outside of your daily routine, and who knows, it may evolve into a new routine that will help your mind stay clear and better focused.
Doubtful that these suggestions work? Well, they just did for me. You’re reading it. On that note, Happy Thanksgiving! Till next time.