Random Forays | Writers must overcome blocks and inertia

The “writer’s block” is actually a figment of our imagination, The author who coined this term was clearly suffering from it himself else he would have come up with something less insipid! Perhaps “writer’s lethargy” or “writer’s inertia” may be a more apt description of what we go through when we just don’t feel like writing anything.
Obstacles created by moods and mind-made “dangals” are perhaps a writer’s greatest foes, along with writer’s block and inertia. (Representative Image/iStock)
Obstacles created by moods and mind-made “dangals” are perhaps a writer’s greatest foes, along with writer’s block and inertia. (Representative Image/iStock)
Published on Sep 12, 2021 02:14 AM IST
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By Vivek Atray

Am writing this on the road and wondering whether physical speed breakers and potholes are as impactful towards the degeneration of a vehicle as those of the mind are to a human being’s journey.

Obstacles created by moods and mind-made “dangals” are perhaps a writer’s greatest foes too. Anyone who is truly comfortable with a language and blessed with a certain amount of imagination can be a writer, in my view. The harder part is to actually get down to writing as a regular activity and also to conjure up something meaningfully palatable to the reader.

Many talented and even accomplished writers hesitate and dither for years before publishing anything. I have, of late, been advocating to many friends the need for them to take the plunge and sit down at their keyboards for six months with regularity. A book will then surely emerge from their efforts at dabbling into creative writing.

The “writer’s block” is actually a figment of our imagination, in my opinion. The author who coined this term was clearly suffering from it himself else he would have come up with something less insipid! Perhaps “writer’s lethargy” or “writer’s inertia” may be a more apt description of what we go through when we just don’t feel like writing anything.

Ruskin Bond was in his element when my family called on him some years ago at his cute little Mussoorie cottage. He spoke about how he really felt in the groove at certain times and not so much on other occasions when he sat down to write. But he did add that he felt extremely grumpy on the day when he had written nothing at all.

For young and aspirational writers, I think there is an insightful message embedded in his words. Whether one feels like it or not, it is a great idea to write consistently in order to produce something of substance. On some days one may not be in the flow and that tingling excitement of trying to write something stupendous may be missing. But one can always edit and improve such uninspired writings on another day. That’s the way it truly works.

Lata Mangeshkar or Sachin Tendulkar, peerless maestros of their arts, obviously had their off days. But they doubtlessly went about their tasks diligently none the less. And the overall results were joys to behold.

I know a writer from Punjab who wakes up frightfully early, at 4 am, every single day to write, come what may. And of course there must be occasions when the heart is just not into it but that does not dissuade the prolific writer from delivering time after time.

One of the ways to look at this philosophy is to compare the drudgery of writing when one does not feel like it, with an athlete or musician who practices endlessly before a top performance. Authors cannot expect to churn out magnificent masterpieces every day. They must go through the toil of writing, editing and reviewing repeatedly. As Ernest Hemingway said, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”.

All in all, when one is determined to write, one can do so on all days. And when the mind’s tide is favourable one can make hay and write better. It is a bit like trying to hit a double century when the going is good for a batsman, and somehow cobbling up a fifty on other days.

Purdue University’s Online Writing Laboratory advises writers who face the block to try beginning in the middle, if they are not feeling inspired enough to pen down an inspiring opening to their work, for instance. By changing the approach, by altering the plan, by being flexible to the extent that one can indulge in some editing on the day when writing seems to be a chore, an author can finally come up trumps.

The written word is not popular these days, such are our hype-energy times. If more people were to spend time reading and writing, the whole world would calm down. Perhaps!

I do agree that outstanding writers are a rare commodity, but why aren’t the hundreds of good ones spending more time with the world of words? Our world needs them!

vivek.atray@gmail.com

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Wednesday, October 27, 2021