Writer’s Block: Are You a Victim?

Caution: Those looking for quick fix remedies will be disappointed

Curing writer’s block is tough. Have you had insomnia? No, it’s not a trick question. For those who suffer from both or either of them, it’s the same.

I have always slept like a well fed baby. Always, without exaggeration. Uninterrupted by my copious caffeine consumption.  Sleep came readily and easily to me everywhere: in buses, cabs, parties, lectures, coffee shops; you name it and I have slept there. Effortlessly.

Then one wretched night it happened. It was time to sleep. I lay on the bed, cuddled up to my pillow, and closed my eyes. A while later, I opened my eyes and found myself staring at the big, wooden cupboard in my bedroom. I was not dreaming. Nobody dreams of massive, battered cupboards that are falling to bits. So I tried again. I even moved the cupboard, but it didn’t work. I sighed and put my mild irritation to productive use that night—I read a book. And the next night and the night after. Unfortunately, my irritation ceased to remain mild. It turned malevolent. I couldn’t read or write. Nor could I watch TV (this was before my Game of Thrones fervor). Unsurprisingly, I was at the remedies counter. And to my joy and misery there were many to be tried and tested. Dousing myself in lavender oil; taking long, luxurious baths before going to sleep; milk and honey, chamomile tea; reading (yawn) boring books; even counting sheep that kept bumping into each other—it was endless and I did it all. No sleep. Splat.

It was agonizing, debilitating. Not the insomnia. The wait. The wait to sleep; the wait to feel the body turn spongy and warm and soak up sleep. Sweet sleep. Tender sleep. Effortless sleep. I never wanted anything more that week.

Then when the week ended, my mind was a blur. On an hour’s sleep every day, my energy had ebbed.

And I gave up waiting.

As I lay in bed that night (the eighth night) I prepared myself to be a version of Christian Bale’s character, Trevor Reznik, in The Machinist. For the first time that possibility seemed like a reality, and I closed my eyes. I don’t remember much of what happened later except that when I opened my eyes, the mynahs were chirping and the sunlight was streaming through the flimsy white curtains. I had slept for nine hours at a stretch and my mind was wide-eyed with clarity.

Still looking for a cure for your writer’s block? Try this:

“I don’t believe in writer’s block. If I can’t write, I go out and live. Then, if I’m a writer, I’ll find something to write.” ― Peter Arpesella