Endurance runners call it the wall. The point where you just can’t run any more, that your legs turn to putty, you mouth goes dry and there is nothing you can even think. The point of the wall is to get over it, or through it, or around it, but not to let it slow you down or, god forbid, stop you.
Writer’s block, for me, is very similar. I am writing, consistently and easily and everything comes naturally, word follows word until I have a sentence, a paragraph, a beginning and then
That doesn’t work. You think, unlike a marathon, you don’t have to follow a set route. You can go back and change something else. So you run all the way back, looking for the point where your path could diverge and you get to take the road less travelled by and you do. So you follow this new path, the modern other path, strewn with obstacles and problems but they are nothing but stumbling blocks, overcome in the time it takes to make a cup of tea or watch an episode of your favourite show. You find your rhythm again, and then
It is a wall constructed of unwritten words, all the things you could have written but didn’t. You decided they were the wrong path to take and so they haunt you, collecting and amassing until they become
There’s only one option. You have to take the wall apart, brick by brick, word by word until it’s no longer there. Write it all down, write every brick. Fix them in a place and then you can leave them behind, but until the words are written they remain spectres, Ghosts of novels past. Then there’s nothing left but the path ahead. A truly new path, completely untravelled.
The Wall still exists, but now you can manage it. You can harness it, should you need to. There is a gap in your Yellow Brick Road, you simply find the words that used to be the wall and select the one that fits.
That is what writer’s block is. A Wall to overcome.
The Idiot in Tin Foil