The most important relationship in life is the relationship you have with yourself.
Diane von Furstenberg
OK, focus. F-O-C-U-S.
I have lately been mired in a serious case of writer’s block. Like an egregious haze, it hits a few times a year and fogs everything up. I can’t breathe. I can’t think. I can’t sleep. Deadline looms — ticktockticktock ⏱⏱💣! I want to hurl something at the iMac.
What’s the cure? Good question. You can fix a hangover and even PMS, but the panacea for writer’s block is still at large, my friends. Trust me, I’ve done my research. Mais oui, there are a few good suggestions on the Internet, and I sure as hell have tried many over the years. But this affliction is as elusive as a damn itch you can’t for the life of you locate. Let me walk you through some of the desperate, crazy measures that have transpired — in no particular order. *Rewind to the part where I’m about to throw a very pointy shoe at the Mac…*
Hush, calm down, I give myself a little
pep TED talk — or let Elizabeth Gilbert give me one. Go put on the diffuser with seven drops of aromatherapy oil — lemongrass relieves stress and anxiety. Play some soothing sounds of nature on Spotify (Rain Water Dripping From Tree, Quiet Flames In The Dark, Waves Of The Atlantic — not making this up).
Meditate, clear your head of any mental debris that’s obstructing the flow of brilliant ideas and words.
Read a book, any book, or Vogue. How about taking a walk? Yes, take a walk! It did marvels for Jane Austen, Beethoven and Charles Dickens. Maybe I, too, will find my great opening mid-stroll, as Dickens did his for Great Expectations. OK. Put on shoes. Go for walk. 🏃🏻
10,000 steps later, still no words. 😤
Maybe Einstein’s method would do the trick. So “I lie down in the middle of a work day and gaze at the ceiling.”
Nope. Nada. (The writing’s not on the wall, Sam Smith, FYI.) Next!
Put it out there in the universe, aka Facebook. Maybe one of my 316 FB friends will prove to be the deus ex machina in my little tragicomedy.
Play an episode of Sex And The City — Carrie Bradshaw’s awesome quips might inspire something. Right. The next thing I know, it’s Season Two and the damn cursor is still blinking — probably rolling its eyes at me — on a still-very-blank page.
So you see, I’ve tried everything. Everything legal at least. Including shoe-shopping, as Carrie is wont to do when she finds herself writing about socks and French fries — unless that’s a sort of substance abuse unbeknown to me.
I put the phone away and suddenly,
I found on my hands a surplus of time to do the things
I always say I wish I had time to do.
It happens to the best of us, I know. The Goldfinch was more than 10 years in the making, and Donna Tartt has openly described the first few years of writing a new book to be “a torturous time”. Can you imagine? Yet here I am, stuck on a mere article. Pfft.
But here’s the thing about creating — whether it’s a magazine article, a book, a painting or a piece of music, it’s easy to lose your way and find yourself banging on a wall in pursuit of perfection. Easier now than ever before, sadly.
I blame it on the current state of the world — this hyper-plugged-in world where there is a
constant onslaught of things coming at us: READ! LIKE! FOLLOW! WATCH! BUY! DO THIS! TRY THAT! OMG! Thing is, the more plugged in we are, the more often our creative mojo switches off. We’re all over the place all the time. It’s insane.
Confession: Even with the noose of a deadline around my neck, I would. Somehow. Still. Find the time to reach for my phone every two minutes to see if there’s a *new email/Instagram Like/Facebook 👍🏻 ❤️ 😂 😵 😢 😡/WhatsApp message (come on, there are poLeetical sagas, Gigi’s new bangs and Girls losing the plot to discuss!)
I know, it’s baaad. So two weekends ago, as I turned 38, I did an adult thing (hoping also that I’d finally unblock this season’s writer’s block in the process). I checked in to a staycation and checked out of social media. 😱 Uh-huh, a phone detox that would span Friday to Sunday.
Truth is, it was a lot easier and not as frightening as I’d imagine. I’ll admit, I cheated on a few occasions over three very long days. Let’s focus on the bit that I did put the phone away for the most part, and suddenly, I found on my hands a surplus of time to do the things I always say I wish I had time to do.
When you’re in a state of melancholic sorrow just do something you love or take some time to do absolutely nothing at all. It is only when you’re relaxed that a creative spark will fly.
So, my conclusion is this: Love yourself — IRL, not on social media. Make time, not excuses. Take your time to do the things you love. Take time to take care of yourself, to rest, to be with yourself. Your work and, who knows, new ideas and inspiration will be right there waiting for you when you’re ready to “switch on” again.
And every day, the world will drag you by the hand, yelling, ‘This is important! And this is important! And this is important! You need to worry about this! And this! And this!’ And each day, it’s up to you to yank your hand back, put it on your heart and say, ‘No. This is what’s important.’
Parkroyal On Pickering is #WoWHotel of the month.
With its “hotel-in-a-garden” concept and remarkable energy-and-water-conservation features throughout the building, it’s perfectly Earth-Day apropos.
Wear Oh Where was a guest of Parkroyal On Pickering. All views and opinions are my own.