By Nadia Ballas-Ruta of Happy Lotus
The one thing that can shake any writer’s sense of cool is writer’s block. It is one of those little secrets that no writer wants to think about – let alone acknowledge suffering from it. It is like a deadly disease that writers are afraid to catch. Actors are afraid that saying “Macbeth” before a performance will bring bad luck. Writers feel the same way about the phrase “writer’s block”.
When Ernest Hemingway Crossed My Path
As a person who has been writing professionally for nineteen years, I have had my battles with writer’s block. But that all stopped when Ernest Hemingway crossed my path.
Yes, Ernest Hemingway is dead and no, I did not have a run in with his ghost. Here is the story of how Hemingway helped me to finally conquer writer’s block:
I was in Paris sitting in a cafe reading a book about his life. I figured nothing would be cooler than sitting in an actual Parisian café and reading about one of my literary heroes. I then came across a passage that changed my life. Here is the passage:
The best way is always to stop when you are going good and when you know what will happen next. If you do that every day … you will never be stuck. Always stop while you are going good and don’t think about it or worry about it until you start to write the next day. That way your subconscious will work on it all the time. But if you think about it consciously or worry about it you will kill it and your brain will be tired before you start.
Just Be Your Work
I realize that this advice, at first glance, seems appropriate for fiction writers. However, it can be used by a writer of any genre. The key ingredient in fighting writer’s block is to be inspired. The root of the word “inspiration” means to be in spirit or in breath. Inspiration is the force behind creativity. Inspiration can come in any form. The key to inspiration is to be in communication with it at all times. Inspiration, basically, is a way of life.
Due to my work as a writer, I have been fortunate to meet very successful people and the one thing I have noticed with all of them is that they are their work. They talk about their work with such ease, it’s impressive. You can always tell who is an expert by how they talk about their field. The people who love what they do, can just talk without needing notes or props or anything. They just talk. The same holds true for writers…just be your work.
The Outside World Is A Never Ending Source of Material
It is important to realize that every day when you step out of your home and go about your day, you are surrounded with inspiration. A lot can happen on the drive or walk to work. You may notice something that inspires you to write a blog post or a story or a newspaper article. I once saw a dog enter a subway station, get on the train and get off three stops later. I used that material as a blog post. I was on my way to a meeting when this happened and if I was not paying attention to my surroundings, I may not have noticed it.
The same holds true with anything that you encounter during the day. Be aware of your surroundings and receptive to what you see. It is said that in the course of the day, the human brain perceives millions of pieces of information. Sources for stories, articles, blog posts, etc., can all come from one or more of those millions of pieces of observation. (By the way, Hemingway also suggested that writers carry a small notebook with them at all times because you may see something that interests you and that way you can write it down immediately, so you will not forget. I would highly recommend following this advice, too.)
Never Ever Indulge In Worrying
It is also important to note that when it comes to writing; never ever worry about what to write. By being in a state of worry you will block any sources of inspiration. Water cannot pass through a closed fist…the same is true for inspiration. Inspiration cannot come to a closed mind. So keep your mind open and be aware of what happens around you whether it is on the train or in a café or simply walking down the street – you will be inspired and your battle with writer’s block will be a work of fiction.
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