Sunday, 8 January 2012
Running, cats and writer's block
When I was a child, a teenager and throughout my twenties, writing came so easily and the words would flow effortlessly. Now, I have to wrestle the words out. It’s a struggle. A wrench. Like dragging myself from under the duvet on a cold winter morning.
Last summer, I took up running. The main reasons were fitness and weight loss, but actually the thing I like best about running is the head space it gives you. And, although I keep harking back to this, each run is a short journey. And journeys are so effective at stimulating the creative juices.
When I was on my way back from a run on Friday morning, I noticed up ahead that a black and white cat was sitting on the zebra crossing in the middle of the road. He was deeply engrossed in sniffing at something that demanded his attention, so much so that when a a learner in a driving school car passed by me towards the crossing, the cat stayed put. The car stopped and the instructor must have told his pupil to sound the horn. A loud hoot still didn’t persuade the cat to move. I wondered what would happen next. I was worried about the cat, wondering if I should try and scoop him up and keep him safe. But the car, after waiting a bit longer, simply drove onto the wrong side of the road and round the cat, who then sauntered casually away.
Watching this, I recalled an assertiveness course I attended many moons ago. I don’t remember much about it but what did stick was this advice: if you encounter an obstacle, either remove it or go round it.
I don’t really believe in writer’s block as such, in the sense that I rarely have problems getting ideas. The issue is reining those ideas in and focussing on what to do with them. And writing them down. The actual writing, that’s the hard bit. My favoured approach, like the car, would be to go around the obstacle. In practical terms, this means doing something else until I can address the real problem. So if I’m not working on my novel, like I should be, I might write a short story, a feature, a blog (my own or a guest blog) or get on with some marketing. I hate to waste time. So although I’m not actually removing my obstacle at least I’m achieving something. I suppose you could call it productive procrastination.
That cat was really cute.