Writers sometimes hit the buffers. Maybe the brilliant idea they thought they’d had turns out not to be so brilliant after all. Maybe there’s a basic structural fault in their construction. Or, they think they’re suffering from writer’s block. Years ago they’d sit slumped over the typewriter snivelling, ‘I’m blocked.’ Nowadays they can find reams of ‘unblocking’ advice online. They can attend a workshop. A kind of Dyno-Rod for novelists.
I’ll tell you what I think. Crying ‘blocked!’ is a cop-out. People ask me if I ever get writer’s block and my answer is that I have never had the luxury. My writing put (and still puts) food on the table. If I wake up wishing I’d done something different with my life, I go to my desk anyway and write. If it ends up in the trash bin, so be it. I have to write because that has been my chosen path and it’s too late to change now. The occasional patch of ennui and uninspired dreck-production goes with the job.
There are things I do, when whatever I’m writing isn’t quite working, when the Inner Laurie whispers, ‘no, no, no, can do better.’ I go for a walk or clean the windows. Ironing is good too. It’s an activity that allows the brain to coast out of gear and, okay, unblock itself. A kind of castor oil for the creative mind which comes with the bonus benefit of lovely smooth sheets. So a win-win.
But one last radical thought. No-one has to become a writer. Everyone doesn’t have a book in them any more than they have a symphony up their sleeve. Sorry. If you think you’re a writer, if you’re just starting out and you find you keep getting blocked, walk away, be something else for heaven’s sake. Life is long and wide and full of wonderful possibilities. Trust me, there will never be a world shortage of writers.