Writerís Block?

How can one have writerís block with a fist full of sharpened pencils? If thatís not good enough, carry the pencils to the backyard and sit in a comfortable Adirondack chair. If that is not good enough, carry a cat and a bottle of bourbon with you. Can you write about the cat? The cat jumped over a butterfly; the cat jumped over the moon; the cat took a trip to the moon where it was possessed by evil Venusians bent on dominating the solar system, but the Venusians were only able to steal the bourbon.

Okay, still not working? Try a better pencil. Steven King thought highly of Black Warrior pencils. Little girls prefer pretty pencils that make pretty colours on paper. If pencils are not the problem, try better bourbon or greater bourbon volume. Bourbon consumption is like standard battle strategy, use overwhelming power to quickly smash the opponent. Or use a different cat . . . the leopard spots turned green when the Venusians took control of the leopardís body.

So, now your poor pet cat is looking at you with sad eyes because you replaced it with a leopard. Such is the writing life, abundant sacrifices for those that toil to succeed. And pencils are sharp if youíve had too much bourbon. But thatís a win-win. Pour bourbon over the wound to sterilize, and take another sip for pain. The cat wonít be of much use with pencil injuries.

What about this writerís block thingy we were discussing? If this silly tirade hasnít driven you out to your chair in the backyard, thereís no hope. Well, no, I take that back. Where thereís pencils, cats, and bourbon; thereís always hope.

Retreat? ...  Many writers feel that the writing retreat is the way to go. For some, thatís great. Annie Dillard enjoyed the reclusive life and found inspiration in nature. Thoreau and the other nature writers did the same. There was a famous sci-fi author that did methamphetamine for a month and stayed at the typewriter till the novel was completed. Seclusion works for some.

Thomas Merton enjoyed solitude for inspiration but stressed that ascetic or monastic life is only for service to the community. Retreat from society is retreat from ideas. Hemingway found ideas at the local bar, or out on the fishing boat or hunting trip with his buds. Sartre wrote much of his work while sitting at the local cafť sipping coffee. Many of the greatest writers were involved with writing groups or artist groups. Still today, we see writing groups touted as the only way to get quality feedback. But thereís more to it than just feedback. Todayís writing demands reality, and thatís only going to be found by writers that live, feel, and know reality.

Take a notebook or voice recorder with you. Youíll find ideas when youíre at the ballgame, ballet, karate tournament, movie theatre, church, class, bar, work place, store, lunch, familyís Christmas dinner, etc.

Donít avoid life. Life is the inspiration. Life is the voice that lends reality to the work.