Quarantine writing

IRHT_16218_2_P.jpg
Petrarch rebuking Boccacio for his idleness (when there are so many books to be written), from a late 15th-century manuscript (Paris, Bibliothèque Mazarine, 3878)

The two most common sources of deferring or discontinuing a writing project are writer’s block and distractions. In other words, two forms of siege, one inner, the other external.

Writing under pressure is not the same as writing under siege. In military terms, an enemy may put pressure on a fortification, but a state of siege is meant to choke the life out of a bastion. That’s why most sieges in history aren’t those that end in stealthy infiltration, but those where the besieged are exhausted, starved and forced to surrender.

Writer’s block exhausts the resources from within – it is the hidden enemy inside the gates, without a face, unbeknownst to the stifled inner voice. Distractions, on the other hand, are well known but irresistible. The act of writing is besieged by endless procrastination stemming from well-known diversions. You can’t stop what you don’t know, but you won’t always stop what you do know.

The current crisis – to come, inexorably, to it – has consequences on our outer sieges as well. The silver lining is that, like all crises, it puts things into perspective. You go shopping, but you only buy what’s really necessary. Companies arrange for staff to work from home, but all fluff is gone, like unnecessary meetings and nugatory projects. Everyone’s asked to focus on what’s really important. The overall effect is one of clarity and dilation.

With many distractions now gone, you can focus on writing, if that’s what you need to do. As we are increasingly approaching a state of siege in our various nations, there’s no reason you should feel besieged as you face the blank page. There may never have been a better time to write that piece you’ve always wanted to write, to develop that idea that’s been waiting on the sideline the entire game.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: