A Letter to My Writer’s Block
Dear Writer’s Block,
I’ve stopped and restarted this letter far too many times. And while I know the irony of that statement is staring us both right in the face, No, it’s not because I couldn’t find the words. It is also not just because we must now, as we have many times in the past, say our farewells to one another. It’s because when I began this letter I was quite honestly unsure of how I felt about you. Many of my fellow penmen regard you with complete and utter disdain, even horror. It’s as if you were some sort of ghost or reaper to be exorcised. I’ll agree that the Grim Reaper is a clever juxtaposition — a writer can stop the “dreaded Block” just about as easily as man can evade Death itself.
However, after much deliberation, I think I would like to take a stance a bit to the contrary. While I would never go so far as to suggest that you are somehow like a welcome guest, it has become my personal belief that your presence is somewhat necessary. I understand that this is a rather controversial stance to take but please. Hear me out.
Your “arrival” is not at all too sudden. You don’t strike, loudly and immediately, like lightning or some grand flash flood. Your “self” is periphery, a state of being laying among the outskirts of my subconscious until the state of affairs of my life forces you to the foreground. And when I finally find you in the center of my view, I am forced to ask myself: “what’s happened? What is happening currently in my life that has taken away my ability to produce?”
More than likely, the answer is simply the clutter and chaos of life itself, the ever-lengthening To Do List of Being. It seems to grow more broad and unfocused by the day. I’ve struggled with this aspect of my life for as long as I can remember. I have no idea if this is a common occurrence among my peers or not. However, in my opinion, this is not an issue of a lack of focus but rather a tendency to over-focus. Instead of fixating on one thing, I become obsessed with, say, three. This happens all at once, every day, and it’s all-encompassing. As I become engulfed in a dozen subjects and goals in a myriad of different areas, my To Do List of Being — once a neat, lean and pointed path — becomes a mish-mash of various interests, acute curiosities, vague goals and spontaneous desires. The “Important” is lost within an ocean of the fanciful, the random and the mundane. Gradually, I lose sight of what is up, down and everything in between. And it is while I attempt to stabilize myself within this self-inflicted Purgatory that you, Writer’s Block, ultimately emerges at the center of my field of view.
With you in my vision, it becomes all too clear just how much I have lost sight of what truly matters, what is truly important. For what could possibly be more important to a writer than the craft itself? My progenitors in the field have described writing as being as important to them as food or water or sunlight, and I would wholeheartedly agree with this comparison. Your appearance forces me to re-access, to find my True North, to tear apart and relay the markers that indicate my true goals and re-examine the steps I need to take in order to achieve them.
It is because of this, Writer’s Block, that I cannot rebuke you. In fact, in many ways I am somewhat grateful for you knocking at my door. However, we have reached the point in our rapport where we must part ways. You must return, once more, to the edge of my vision. I have found my way again. The path is mapped, the weather is right, my resolve is sound. Every time you have reminded me of my lost path, there is another time where you have compelled me to find it again.
I must leave you now — I will not look for you. To be blunt, it is my greatest hope that we never meet again. But if we must cross paths, do not be surprised if I am not afraid.
This post came from the writing prompt “Write a Letter to Your Writer’s Block”. I honestly hate prompts like this — something that asks you do address a state of being rather than a specific person or thing. But I decided to have a little fun with it by making it as formal and serious as possible. I was surprised at how much legitimate soul-searching I did while composing this. I also had a lot of fun flexing my vernacular here. Here’s hoping I didn’t lay it on too thick!