The Case For Writer’s Block

An automatic piece of writing that sought to explore and articulate the pain and frustration of experiencing writer’s block.

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Writer’s block, what a load of plop…and not just any old plop. Plop that won’t drop.

In fact, it is not plop but rather a hard dry clumpy lump of all that we have previously ingested, but now it fails to come out. Like that joke: “What does a Mathematician do when they are constipated? They work it out with a pencil!” But, for me, an artist who uses words, I want to work out that lump with a super-smooth glidey rollerball pen or my fingers nimbly upon a keyboard. Tap tap tapity tap, I want the words to flow out into the world. I want to watch them go. But alas, no matter how hard I push and strain my poor, poor brain…nothing. So, please don’t tell me that writer’s block does not exist, for I am constipated and bloated and many an hour I have struggled with this.

I never set out to write a piece about ingestion and digestion, but rather the hope for positive suggestion. Thoughts, ideas, discussion points for the reader; for them themselves to invest, assess, and be impressed by my gallant, brave journey through the sinking sand. Replacing inane doodles with brilliant words written by my own hand. I set out to quell my rushing thoughts, to slow the words in my head and just write; to lay bare and bring to light. To scale that sky-high and doubly-long wall that contributes to the wordsmith’s downfall.

I wanted to write a grown-up piece that pointed out—for me at least—that writer’s block is, in fact, a series of blocks; barbed-wire barriers, iron-clad blockades, even a snake-filled hollow. Words backed up—choked up—the lump in my throat dares me to swallow. A place where germs of ideas are left to curdle, breaths of fresh air suffocate in an overly tight girdle, and where every inconsequential twist and turn that could easily be ignored is instead, over and over, diligently explored. I wanted to write how each of these blocks has its very own name and its own way of making soggy my brain. Fear, embarrassment, shame, ridicule, impostor and general disdain. Writer’s block is like a dungeon deep or a castle room up high; strong, solid and yet impervious, built to last and built to starve. Voices—shouts and screams—close down conversations and stifle dreams.

The blocks are constructed from graduated hardcore, words which got stuck in my throat making it sore. The times I wanted to speak up but decided it was best to swallow it down, the times I wanted to speak out but kept it all in and the times I wanted to tell the world of bright ideas but I was too scared they’d fall on deaf ears. So, these little petrified nuggets of stony silence, bones on which to hang flesh, the shells of plans left well alone, a pile of once-fitted hats now all outgrown; they mix together with the sloughed skin of my rubbed-raw furrowed brow—this takes up the space between the stones now. The cement in the blocks is ground-up; layer upon layer of sedimentary rock. The doing nothing, the not turning the tap, well-practiced in the art of keeping my hands in my lap. The water that mixes the hardcore, the sand, the cement; I won’t say it is tears for I don’t want to lament and it is taking me further away from what I originally meant. I want this to be uplifting, encouraging, an insightfully-written piece. So let’s just say that the fluid that seeps amongst and in-between is pervasively slippery and remains unseen. The rushing, gushing flow with many uses. Here we find the library of frequently-used excuses; murky reasons and stinking lies that dissolve the resolve no matter how I try. The concoction now complete, the ingredients all set; blocks formed, baked hard, wall built and hid behind. Please don’t tell me that writer’s block does not exist for I am frozen cold, rock-hard frigid.

Wow, all that effort not doing what I want to do! Seriously, I can spend weeks and weeks working through; a pile of nothing to show you. The effort spent on not sitting down and not doing what I love, what I crave, what I desire, chastising myself for the world loves a trier. It is exhausting, lovingly creating these treacherous blocks, swallowing the key so I can’t open the lock. I am the architect, the engineer, the builder’s mate; I lay block after block so they perfectly tessellate, humiliate and annihilate. The clock ticks, days pass and I—as master builder—brick up more walls using self-doubt as mortar. With plumb and line the wall is straight and true, no tidal-wave of excitement will ever get through. My wall of writer’s block will make sure that I will not be exposed to a wide-open landscape of opportunity or blinded by the light of possibility and certainly not carried along by the warm breeze of Let’s just try it and see. So please do not tell me that writer’s block does not exist, for to its wall—look—see my handcuffed wrist.

Anyway, it is done. I have written this piece as I said I would. Two weeks of intellectual wandering condensed into half an hour of wondering if I actually could remove a block or two, changing the 20,000-plus minutes of pain and tease into 30 minutes where my brain finally reigned free.

Rebekah uses art, photography, psychotherapy and writing to articulate the need of the authentic self to be revealed, explored and enjoyed.

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