I am on my third week of sabbatical from blogging. Bumping up a post written last year, about taking time out from writing:
In 2004, I decided to leave a burgeoning career as a feature writer to hearken to a spiritual calling. For almost a decade I stopped writing professionally and relied solely on journaling as my way of writing. It was not easy to leave behind a career I had worked so hard to establish; and it took sometime to accept the fact that I was no longer a writer – and perhaps would never be one, again.
During that period, journaling was the only writing activity I had. It was a welcome avenue, but it could never equal the joy of being a feature writer for an international magazine. Because of the absence of deadlines, there were days, even months when I abandoned journaling altogether. I didn’t write a word. Yet, it didn’t bother me. Abandoning a writing career made it easy for me to accept the days when the words would not flow.
Writer’s block is not a problem for me. Leaving the writing profession taught me to write in another way – to write on the fabric of my soul. Here are some journal entries that explain this soul-ful way of writing.
July 10, 2010
After a long hiatus from writing, the words are flowing again, there is an energy that is hard to explain. Why do we need to go into hibernation even if sometimes we don’t want to?
Life presents itself and we sometimes find our hands full – too full to hold a pen and scribble on a page. Yet, it seems that a soul in hibernation is a soul that is upgrading itself. And soon, once the hiatus is over, a most resplendant inner soulful creation is uncovered.
October 28, 2010
My writing life was aborted, once more. Yet as I ponder now, was it really? I think not, on hindsight. I have only known the usual form of writing – setting down words on paper or the computer. I had not done this form of writing these past months, as events flowed and flowed and there was no time nor energy left for writing. But I feel that I had not ceased being a writer during those moments. I fully lived every minute, listened to every sound and felt every feeling that came to me. And my mind took it all in. So much, indeed, was written in the fabric of my soul and not one small detail was lost. Somewhere in the depths of my soul, a wordless book had been written and it is now very much a part of me. If there is a need, I know that this inner book will manifest in the material world and when that time comes, all will simply flow.
April 1, 2012
To abstain is to do without something for a certain period of time. I recently went on a journaling abstinence for almost two months.
There was no specific reason for abstaining, or doing without journaling, which had been a regular activity for more than a decade. Regular except for the periods of abstinence which happened spontaneously every now and then.
I don’t question these periods of abstinence. Over the years, I have learned to embrace them as respites for the soul, because journaling for me is an activity of the soul. During the periods of abstinence, life takes on a different hue as I take notes not with a pen but with my eyes, ears, nose and skin – my senses are the instruments through which I observe life and record them in the fabric of my soul. The “fabric of my soul” becomes the medium on which my senses record my experiences and impressions. It is a different kind of writing, one that requires many quiet moments to allow the soul to reach out from the depths of my being and explore the world around me and then take all that it had experienced right back into the center of my being. These then become recorded impressions in my soul, notes that are etched in the core of my being.
When the period of abstinence is over, I always find that my way of perceiving the world has changed and there is a sense of lightness in me. And then, the words begin to flow once more.
“If you get stuck, get away from your desk. Take a walk, take a bath, go to sleep, make a pie, draw, listen to music, meditate, exercise; whatever you do, don’t just stick there scowling at the problem. But don’t make telephone calls or go to a party; if you do, other people’s words will pour in where your lost words should be. Open a gap for them, create a space. Be patient.”
“Writer’s block is my unconscious mind telling me that something I’ve just written is either unbelievable or unimportant to me, and I solve it by going back and reinventing some part of what I’ve already written so that when I write it again, it is believable and interesting to me. Then I can go on. Writer’s block is never solved by forcing oneself to “write through it,” because you haven’t solved the problem that caused your unconscious mind to rebel against the story, so it still won’t work – for you or for the reader.”
― Orson Scott Card
All writing is difficult. The most you can hope for is a day when it goes reasonably easily. Plumbers don’t get plumber’s block, and doctors don’t get doctor’s block; why should writers be the only profession that gives a special name to the difficulty of working, and then expects sympathy for it?
– Philip Pullman
“Suggestions? Put it aside for a few days, or longer, do other things, try not to think about it. Then sit down and read it (printouts are best I find, but that’s just me) as if you’ve never seen it before. Start at the beginning. Scribble on the manuscript as you go if you see anything you want to change. And often, when you get to the end you’ll be both enthusiastic about it and know what the next few words are. And you do it all one word at a time.
”– Neil Gaiman