Excuses for a Monumental Case of Writer’s Block

One hundred and four days ago I started this blog to share my travel-writing adventure. I planned to post regularly and keep you updated on the progress. And then life happened: I downsized my living space, moved both my office and home, and, drum roll, please, I quit smoking…and found writer’s block.

At first it was pure busyness that kept me from writing. I told myself I would just get through the move and then I could focus on the trip.

Everything was going according to the Grand Plan. I sold many of my possessions, put a few prized antiques into storage, donated the rest of my possessions to a local charity, and downsized my home and office into a small place in the country.  I relished the quiet, the efficiency of such a tiny space, and the peace of mind that comes from having less. Here’s a great article on 21 Benefits of Owning Less. I’ve always tended toward minimalist thinking, but now I’d taken it to the extreme so I could have the freedom and means to travel during the coming year.

Just after moving, I decided to quit smoking. This is a 30-plus year habit, so it wasn’t a decision I made lightly. A friend told me I would have to hate smoking before I ever quit. I didn’t hate it. But, for the first time in my life, I wanted something else more than I wanted to smoke. I wanted to travel and live this adventure without the hindrance of smoking.

Anyone who has never smoked might not understand, but when you smoke, every moment not smoking is spent thinking about when you will again get to smoke. As smoking isn’t allowed on the trains — and I knew my lodging probably wouldn’t allow it either — I decided it was time to quit. I wanted to be present during this journey. I wanted to enjoy it and not be miserable riding the train when the whole point of taking the train was to enjoy the experience.

So I quit. It’s been three weeks and I’m still quit. And I am slowly, oh so slowly, starting to regain my cognitive thinking. Things were fuzzy at first. It wasn’t just a case of writer’s block. It was a case of an inability to read, write or do anything that took any amount of concentration. But like I said, it’s getting better.

This morning I read this introduction in Don George’s Lonely Planet’s Guide to Travel Writing and was reminded of my passion and inspired to break through the block and write again (hallelujeah!). Plans are coming together for the trip and I’ll share more next week about that. In the meantime, here’s what helped me to realize that writing is a dream job, but I have to actually, well…write.

“Travel writer. Those two words are among the most alluring in the English language. No less a luminary than Mick Jagger has said that if he couldn’t be a rock star, he’d like to be a travel writer. Drew Barrymore has claimed the same.

“It is an enticing image. There you are, lying on a chaise longue on a white-sand beach by an aquamarine ocean, describing how the palm trees rustle in the salt-tinged breeze; sipping a café crème in a Parisian café, scribbling impressions in a battered notebook; bouncing through the African bush, snapping photos of gazelles and lions, then ending the day listening to spine-tingling tales over gin and tonics in the campfire’s glow.

“If you love to travel and you love to write, it doesn’t get any better.”

Have you ever experienced an extreme bout of writer’s block? What helped you to break through?

My mascot, "Pete," is counting the minutes until we depart.
My mascot, “Pete,” is counting the minutes until we depart.

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