Writer’s Block??

The thought bothered me a lot. I was sitting in front of the computer, going hard at the keyboard. It was office hours and I was trying to finish writing this email to our client. It has already been long enough to fill my entire screen and I knew it was only another couple of sentences. I finished that too and went through the entire draft once again for a sort of proof-reading.

I sent the mail but then the thought returned. I know I have the stamina to write long emails with consistency of thought. I even write 20 page and 40 page technical documents from scratch and write them effortlessly. But damn! When it comes to writing a short blog or a short story of 2 pages, I am hopeless. Utterly hopeless!

Then my mind started wandering. Sometime back, a colleague at office asked me what I thought I would be, had I not been a consultant. I know the kind of clichéd question that it is. And I hate it, absolutely. Have you ever asked this question and seen the kind of frivolous replies people give? One time, I heard someone say, “If I hadn’t been an engineer, I would have been a fighter pilot!” And what is my response to these answers? “Bullshit! Really? So if you were not doing your current job, you would have been a pilot? You mean you were THAT close?” Then, another senior at office said, “I’d probably be a Film Director.” Don’t even get me started on that one.

What I’ve observed is that people usually answer this question with something they know they could never become and yet it needs to sound something fabulous as if it were already a secondary achievement of theirs. It is as if merely by saying “otherwise I would have become so and so,” we are making our present sound better than what it really is. As if wishful thinking is something to be proud of.

Anyway, coming back to the present, the reason I was feeling bothered right now, during work, was that I attempted to answer that question myself. And the way to answer this was by asking myself what was the next best thing I want to do with my life if I had the time and resources for it. And I realized that in my case, the answer is very simple: I want to be a writer.

But then, do I also not make the same hypocritical mistake of saying that I would have been a writer had I not been what I am today? I mean, the two are not related at all so it is not as if being one automatically disqualifies you from being another. Also, have I written anything during the last 2 decades that even qualifies as good writing at any level? No, I’ve not done anything of that sort, but just read hundreds of books. Then how dare I say I want to be a writer, when I don’t know the first thing about writing? That was wishful thinking on my part as well.

The truth is, ever since I read my first novel (Jeffrey Archer’s ‘A Matter of Honor’), I had known that I wanted to write my own book one day. Now, 14 years and another 200 book-reads later, I know that the ambition is still the same. I just have to.

But I can’t! At least for now, I am not good enough. First, I have some ideas to begin, but none of my ideas is complete and that’s why, if you look at my blog, you will find very few posts (5 out of 25) actually contain me writing something. Most of them are either photographs that I’ve taken in the last couple of years (another hobby of mine) or short reviews of some of the books I’ve read, but nothing that I can call a substantial writing.

Everytime I decide to sit down and write a short story about ANYTHING, I invariably end up feeling miserable at my inability to do so and repeatedly feel distracted with my shortcomings.

Then, I read though dozens of blogs and realized that I too have been suffering from what is called “Writer’s Block”, a state in which an author loses the ability to produce new work. The reasons can be many but for me it has mostly been the awareness that my writing will not be good enough. And this is a feeling that has discouraged me from writing for I don’t know how many years now.

Over the past few weeks I’ve also become aware that there isn’t a level of “good enough” that one needs to meet to be able to write. I mean, my desire is not to gain appreciation or recognition from the audience. In fact I don’t even care if nobody reads what I write. That is not the point. I could never write for that since it would be unfair to my own self. But then, what my girlfriend always tells me is that I must write for myself. Write free, whatever comes to mind. Write something that I would myself like to read again and again.

And so, I realized that the only way to do that is to start right now. And what topic do I pick up? Pick up the first thing that comes to my mind. The first thing that then comes to my mind is that even though I am working right now, I cannot but think only about my inability to pick up a topic and think through enough to start writing about it without the fear of failure yet again.

Well, well! I just looked at my word processor and find that expressing this inability to write has already made me compose 850+ words and it is a big achievement for me, considering that 99% of my works end within 2 sentences and then I give up.

So, what I basically mean is that I don’t want to say I would be YYYY, if I weren’t XXXX already because whatever I did has always been my own choice. Nobody and no situation has taken away my desire to be a writer one day and so I want my answer to that stupid question to be that if I weren’t what I am right now, it wouldn’t matter much because my 2nd love – that of writing – is something that I am already doing side by side. Just that I am not a professional at writing, but that hardly matters to me now, does it?

The other day, I read a story by Guy de Maupassant. It was just a 3-4 page short story of 2 Frenchmen who sat at the shore of river Seine fishing and they get caught and executed by the invading army. That’s what I remember of the story and I might be slightly wrong. But the point is that by reading this, I realized that even the most simplest of writings can be beautiful simply if the author connects with the story and writes it from his heart.

All this, in no way lifts the writer’s block that I guess I am suffering from. It merely raises a corner a little for some of the thoughts to escape and find words by themselves, but I know that the moment I publish this, another calm will prevail that will not let me write anything for some time. How long? I don’t know but maybe 2 days, a week, a month? Who knows?

Still, I hope I start with something short but nice very soon..

P.S: Dear Reader, have you ever suffered from such frustration of Writer’s Block? How was it when you first broke through it? Do share your experience with me in the comments section.

Related article by a fellow blogger Christian Mihai:
http://cristianmihai.net/2012/10/04/overcomin-writers-block/

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About Shitij Bagga
I am a blogger, writer, amateur photographer, obsessive reader. I like writing short stories and some of my works are published as multiformat ebooks, that can be downloaded from Smashwords. My author's page at Smashwords is: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/shitijbagga I am a huge fan of reading and collecting books of almost all genres. I love reading science, philosophy, literature and fiction, psychology, biographies, history, leadership, etc. I am a habitual reader and not a single day passes by without me having read at least a page out of any one of my hundred plus book collection. My favorite works being the complete collection of Sherlock Holmes as well as the complete Jeeves and Wooster series by PG Wodehouse. Reading is a part of me that I can never let go and so most of my blogs would be based on ideas that I got from reading. Photography is also one of my hobbies and I love clicking pictures of the places that I visit. I will be uploading some of my favorite pictures in my blog as well.

3 Responses to Writer’s Block??

  1. Pingback: Reader’s Block « Confessions of a Disquisitive Writer

  2. How do I break through? Reading usually does the trick. 🙂

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