That Reluctant Pen

As writers, one of the major hiccups that we all encounter is an elusive pen. Many say a writer’s block is a myth, but I often find myself sitting in front of the screen for hours and not be able to scribble down anything substantial. This lack of inspiration can go on for days or even months before your creative juices decide to flow in. But when you have certain deadlines to adhere to, this becomes pretty much a  deadlock which needs to be stepped over. So how do I combat this dead end? Let’s see.

There is one question that I am often asked, “who do you think of while writing poetry; who is that someone special?”. As exasperated one may feel at such questions, the fact of the matter remains that generally our first book or first poem or that first story comes out of our experiences only.

So the first mantra is to be sensitive and perceptive about your experiences, about people in your life and even the strangers that you meet. For example, a tattered clothed little girl on the signal who comes to you with a sorry face but is giggling away with her younger brother the minute she turns around. Or that old man in the park who comes for a walk with his dog at sharp 6.30 a.m, impeccably dressed, his chin drooping, almost touching his chest, always paying attention to the pavement rather than looking up for the birds, that are merrily tweeting away. Imagine, how monosyllabic his life must be. What I am trying to say is, these strangers give your imagination immense flight. Be observant. These observations can turn out to be great propellers for your next assignment.

The second important tip is, keep a diary with yourself always, and jot down these thoughts immediately, for they fly away as easily as they come by. The good thing is we all have our mobiles 24/7 now with us, jot down these potent yet fleeting thoughts in a notepad, or just record it in your voice on the phone. But make a note of it. These references always come handy.

Then thirdly, maintain a writing schedule diligently. Writing is a job, treat it as one. You have to nudge yourself to your writing desk to prod the embers of your inspiration, it will surely keep you warm then. If the familiar ambience of your home doesn’t propel your imagination then find a good café, order a cup of black coffee and let your creative juices flow sitting there, in a corner. Many great writers swear by this habit of writing in a cafe. The privacy you get of not being disturbed by kids or your help, the soft music playing or just observing people around you, this all can unblock your clogged mind in quite a jiffy.

Fourthly, make sure that you write a certain number of words daily, even if it’s just what you ate, whom you met. Maybe join some literary groups like Penmancy or take part in writing challenges like Nanowrimo, this helps you to be alert and always on your toes. The idea is to write, write anything that comes to your mind. And eventually, the writer in you will beautify her thoughts. And as they say, write first, edit later, so go on just scribble down anything, let it be out first. As the great Maya Angelou says, 

“What I try to do is write. I may write for two weeks ‘the cat sat on the mat, that is that, not a rat,’… And it might be just the most boring and awful stuff. But I try. When I’m writing, I write. And then it’s as if the muse is convinced that I’m serious and says, ‘Okay. Okay. I’ll come.” 

Lastly, reading has no substitution for a writer. We can bring deviation and variation in our writing style only if we read. Music is another therapy. Many times, the lyrics of a song have impelled me to write for a prompt. But there is a very thin line between inspiration and plagiarism, be conscientious.

And so, these very small basic exercises should help you chase away that ghost muse of yours and clear that so-called writer’s block. You can find your muse as a thought that you can expand on, or a person who will galvanize your grey cells or she may also come as a memory that triggers an emotional outplay. But remember perseverance is pivotal. Eventually, this resolution becomes a habit and you get to know what works for you. The crux is, just don’t give up.

Happy writing!
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Deepti Sharma

She is a dreamer and her undoing is, she sees the dawn before the rest of the world. Yes, she loves Oscar Wilde. A management graduate and a former entrepreneur, who has finally got her calling in writing, which has been her passion since school. Rekindled it 5 years ago when she started writing her blog. Later wrote poetry and mini fiction for many e journals and online magazines. Have won many poetry and fiction writing contests too. Recently her poem has been published in an anthology 'Emotionally yours'. She is a mother of three who resides in Punjab.
Deepti Sharma

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