On writer's block

A fallen tree trunk blocks our path to Triund

While hiking to Triund (Himachal Pradesh) in 2010 I stopped and took this picture. A fallen and chipped tree trunk was blocking our path, almost begging to be restored to its glorious past, before it let us pass. At that moment I did not know that I’d end up posting this picture on my blog while writing about writer’s block- but what the heck, here I go.

This log forced me to do three things that every writer could do when stuck.

1. Stop briefly

2. Look around, pay attention and rely on your intuition to find the best path (the “path” could be the story-line, character development, dramatic incident and such that).

3. Keep moving

Here is a passage from Anne Lamott’s book Bird by Bird  that I pass at every writing workshop. Notice how Anne’s gentle persuasion pushes you to keep moving with hope.

"In the beginning, when you’re first starting out, there are million reasons not to write, to give up. That is why it is of extreme importance to make a commitment to finishing sections and stories, to driving through to finish. The discouraging voice will hound you- “This is all piffle,” they will say, and they may be right. What you are doing may just be practice. But this is how you are going to get better, and there is no point in practicing if you don’t finish.....Everything we need in order to tell our stories in a reasonable and exciting way already exists in each of us. Everything you need is in your head and memories, in all that your senses provide, in all that you’ve seen and thought and absorbed. There in your unconscious, where the real creation goes on..."

Now back to the log on my way to Triund. My then six-year old son noticed the white patches of hail accumulation below the log. You might see it if you look hard enough at this picture. He was happy that he could actually touch “snow”. I was relieved that folks in heaven had heard his wish. Hale to the lord almighty!