Leaving the Doors and Windows Open

Jonathan Carroll on writer’s block. Read the rest of his essay at Timothy Hallinan’s The Blog Cabin:

jonathan_carroll I like to write.  I have always considered writing my friend. We sit down together in the morning and do our job.   But (and this is a big but) if my friend Writing (notice the capital W) says not today because I’d rather go for a walk, or coffee, or nothing at all, I say fine — no work today.  If that extends to a week, then so be it.  Like the wild animals living so oddly but comfortably in the gamekeeper’s house on the Serengeti Plain, Writing stays friendly to me so long as I let him come and go as he pleases. If he doesn’t want to stay in the house he walks out and I do something else like read a book or go to the movies.  I never, ever grab Writing by the neck and say you sit back down here and go to work.   I would never treat a friend like that, nor would I treat a tiger like that.  So why treat the thing I love as much as my creative drive like that?

I believe people get writer’s block a lot of the time because they panic when the flow stops.  Then they run around the house shutting the doors and windows, trying to keep their creativity inside and at work.  Bad idea.  I do think that if they were just to get up and walk away from their work for however long, a lot of their problems would solve themselves.  Some of you might say yeah but I’ve been blocked for six months — what about that?  I’d posit that it’s likely some of the block, maybe not all, is because you are scared and trying to close all your windows.  Which in turn has scared your Writing and made IT panicky.