Running Out of “Fuel” – One Staff Writer’s Experience with Writer’s Block

What makes a writer undoubtedly good? Is it creativity? Is it imagination? Or, is it personal experience? When is it easier for a writer to put thoughts, emotions, and ideas smoothly and effortlessly into valid sentences? Are there any periods in a writer’s life when the act of writing seems like the easiest thing in the world? And what does talent have to do with all of these? Can the urge to write disappear completely, or hibernate for a period longer than the average winter, under a thick layer of ice that blocks it from blossoming?

In my attempt to respond to the concerns above, I began to believe that I was going through a professional existential crisis. I asked myself, “Is writing my true calling?” Fortunately, the crisis was averted after a long, late-night conversation I had with a family friend I respect a lot, but something even worse was just around the corner.

Assumingly you are still wondering why I asked all the above questions, I have only one answer for you: writer’s block! For weeks now I couldn’t complete a single sentence of a professional article, or a personal blog post, either in Greek or English. And speaking of language, let me share with you a part of my life’s story:

English is a second language for me, which I was taught at a small private afternoon school near my home, here in Athens, Greece. Even though my English verbal skills were quite advanced even in childhood as a result of visits to family members who live overseas, English writing skills have always been more of a challenge for me. Despite the fact that I try to read English books, newspapers, and magazines daily to enhance my style and enrich my vocabulary, writing articles and other journalistic pieces are a whole different story. Therefore, you can grasp my trepidation when I knew that I had to overcome a double-layered obstacle: writer’s block and language shortcomings. It’s no Mount Everest, perhaps, but still, it’s a hard work.

I could easily win this fight by taking on the assignment our editor-in-chef proposed to me, but I chose not to. Since the day I came to terms with my current creative condition, I have embarked on an online “treasure hunt” to find the proper remedy. During the course of my journey, I visited numerous websites that delved into the issue of the “writer’s block”. Google the term and you will stumble onto millions of search results! In most websites ‘writer’s block’ is described as “a temporary loss of the ability to write or continue writing due to anxiety or depression.” It sounds disturbing, doesn’t it? And as I gathered more information on this subject, my anxiety grew.

Then, one day, I stopped hunting for the “proper remedy”. Because I suddenly realized the solution had nothing to do with anxiety or my depressive mood. I’d simply stopped having new experiences. In other words, I stopped living my life. Throughout this short-term interlude, I didn’t meet any new people nor learn anything new. As a result, I slowly lost my thirst for knowledge, and began detaching from my emotions and personal thoughts. Without my impulse to write, I was left without a voice. Then I reached the “breaking point”. I had to do something for myself, and for all the writers I have met online with the same problem.

Therefore, I declined my editor-in-chief’s proposal, and decided to write the piece you’re reading right now. Writer’s block was my new experience, and I was all at once passionate to write about it. I saw an opportunity to make something delicious out of limited choices, as my time at Harlots’ Sauce Radio has taught me. So, writers in agony, before you jump into a downward spiral of self-destruction due to lack of inspiration, think twice, take a breather, suit up and go live! Meet new people, taste new things, visit new places, get out of your comfort zone. You can’t even imagine the amount of stories you will come up afterwards.

Last 5 posts by Ilias Kountoupis

Last 5 posts by Ilias Kountoupis