Lately, I have been struggling with a moderate case of writer’s block.
Some of the problem stems from a growing weariness of returning time and again to limited number of subjects. I admire those who can drill a very narrow topical field day in a day out , but to me that feels like a rut and a rut soon leads to boredom. Consequently, I now find myself staring at a computer screen rather more often than typing away at the keyboard and not enjoying it.
A second problem, I suspect, is too often trying to persevere in writing in an unsuitable, chaotic, environment full of distractions. As anyone who writes with seriousness knows, loved ones will ignore you for hours on end, but should you sit down to write anything you will suddenly become a magnet for children, the dog, your spouse, phone calls from old friends and neighbors at the door . Stringing words coherently becomes difficult because writing is an art, not a component of multitasking.
So today, I did something different.
Instead of sitting at my desk, I went outside and sat at the patio table in the sun and fresh air. The electronic devices were left inside, but I brought a long, yellow legal pad and a medium thickness blue sharpie ( I’d have preferred black). I lit a Cohiba and had an ice cold beer with me and a couple of books, in case I felt like reading ( The Makers of Strategy and Everitt’s bio of Hadrian). It was unusually quiet.
And then I began to write. Bullet points, notes, phrases, diagrams interspersed with some sketching. Some notes were connected to others with arrows. Ideas were flowing (some were crossed out later) and the rough approximation of an argument took shape. It was’t a moment of epiphany – just a solid, uninterrupted, focused, productive hour of writing and deep reflection that filled a couple of pages on my legal pad. How uncommon that has become.
And after that, I felt much better.