There has been a great deal written on Twitter just recently about writer’s block. Whether it’s people dispensing advice on how to beat it, or those asking for advice on the issue, it seems that this is a problem which besets every writer at one time or another. Hell, we wouldn’t have the need for the Daily Post Prompts if the words flowed freely every time, would we?
Generally, when it comes to banishing the writer’s block demon, I tend to either listen to some uplifting music, go for a walk, dance around, or drink copious amounts of coffee (on occasion, I have been known to employ all these methods at once). However, there was one time, a few years ago, when I completely and utterly lost the desire and the drive to write anything. Even the very thought of writing filled me with a kind of terror. It scared me, because writing is something I have always done, and I had never experienced that before. So what caused it?
A publishing deal gone awry, is the short answer. After spending more than two years trying to get a publisher to take a book that I had worked on for two years, I was finally offered a publishing deal with a very handsome advance. To say I was overjoyed is an understatement. I was so happy, I cried tears of joy in my husband’s arms. And then, almost at the point of signing the contract, the whole deal was snatched away from me. I shall not go into detail of the whys and wherefores to save the blushes of the guilty party, but I shall say that the collapse of the deal was in no way my fault or the fault of the publisher. The person who caused the deal of my life to fall through broke not only my heart, but my spirit. He was told, in no uncertain terms of the gravity of his actions by my husband. It didn’t help. Conscience and contrition were glaringly absent from his emotional skill set.
I remember the day so clearly, when I was told that the one thing I had worked so hard for, for which I had given years of my life, was no longer mine. April 17th, 2012. I locked myself in the bathroom and cried, while my husband sat outside the door, trying desperately to get me to come out. When I finally emerged, blotchy faced and puffy eyed, it was to tell him that I’d made up my mind. I would never write again. Never again would I put myself in a position were I could be hurt so much. My life as a writer was over.
You all know that I didn’t stick to my word on that, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this right now. Yet it is true to say that I didn’t write a single, solitary thing for six months. In the beginning, the thought of writing only served to make me angry, forcing me to dispel the notion as quickly as it had popped into my head. As time wore on, I found myself having the urge to write more and more, and yet, whenever I sat down at my desk, I was gripped with a kind of panic attack. Awash with fear and self-doubt, I would slam my laptop shut and berate myself for being such a quitter.
Then, one night, as my husband and I sat on the sofa together sharing a bottle or two of Yellow Tail Shiraz, I took a long, deep look into myself. To my amazement, I discovered an interior well of strength, one that I was damned sure hadn’t been there just a few weeks ago. The more I looked into this well, the more determined I became that I would write again. Yes, I had been hurt. Yes, both my heart and my spirit had been broken…but not so completely that they couldn’t be mended. And so, day after day, little by little, I began to force myself to write, even when I didn’t really feel like it. Some days, I would look back on what I had written and would laugh out loud at how nonsensical it was. Other days, there was a glimmer, a flicker, of something that I could use, work with, hone and polish. All of this culminated in my collaborating with my Dad, Neville Winter – one of the finest and funniest poets I know I shall ever meet – on a poetry compilation (I used my alternative, poetry pseudonym of Rona Lee Parks, an anagram of Eleanor Parks, for this book). It is the one book that I have written that means the most to me, the one of which I am proudest.
Now, whenever I feel the onset of writer’s block, it doesn’t panic me anything like it used to, for the simple reason that it can never be as bad as the writer’s block which beset me when my heart and spirit lay in tatters. So, to all you writers out there suffering from a lack of motivation or writer’s block or whatever you may call it, don’t panic. Tell yourself that “this too shall pass”, and then go for a walk, listen to great music, dance around, drink coffee, – whatever clears your head – and then write! It doesn’t matter what you write. Just throw words around, scatter them like stones. Eventually, the creative juices will flow once more and who knows…you may even find a diamond amongst your random stones. I know I did!