While having supper with my parents, we fell to the random topic of writer’s block, and ended up listing, largely for our own entertainments, various ways in which different writers deal with it, starting from the milder cases up to full-blown desperation. For general delight and delectation, I figured I might as well include it here…:
1. Do the vacuuming.
2. Polish the tables.
3. Clean the TV screen.
4. Run a virus scan on your computer.
5. Do the filing.
6. Trim the garden hedge.
7. De-weed the lawn.
8. Lie in bed doing ‘research’ through reading whatever’s within arms reach.
9. Read every copy of every section of every newspaper that you haven’t already taken out to be recycled.
10. Write to your local council about the recycling arrangements.
11. Do your income tax.
12. Move the furniture.
13. Fix, with super glue, whatever you broke while moving the furniture.
14. De-fragment your hard drive.
15. Defrost the freezer.
16. Learn how to cook an exotic meal.
17. Unblock the drains.
18. Clean out dirt from the inside of your mouse to allow the wheel to turn smoothly.
19. Buy a new notebook and pen to sit in your inside jacket pocket for comfort purposes.
20. De-flea the cat.
21. De-worm the cat.
22. Clean the cat’s feeding bowl.
23. Watch Channel 5 action movies until 2 a.m. and then lie awake for hours afterwards in a haze of guilt.
24. Force yourself to write 400 words a day, even if several hundred of these words are, “I’m just two hundred words from the end of the page oh now I’m only one hundred and eighty nine more like one hundred and seventy by now….’
25. Clean the dirt out from between the keys of your keyboard with an extra large but carefully designed nylon-fibre toothbrush.
26. Be taken away from your home by your agent and locked in a hotel in an undisclosed location for five weeks until you’ve written the novel that is overdue by two years and a half. If merciful, your agent will allow you out for a half mile jog once a day, under supervision; if not, it’s room service all the way.
… most severe.
Sad to say, I can promise that every single point described above has happened to some author somewhere within living memory, and the list has barely scratched the surface of possibilities; the honour of point 26 goes to that bastion of science fiction, Douglas Adams.