Ernest Hemingway’s famously stated “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” And still, these words may not sink so easily into the mind of a struggling writer. Bleeding, after all, is a very open and real way of uncovering and addressing personal experiences, be they nostalgic, joy-bringing, or traumatic, and is not a process that always comes naturally—even for the most gifted and experienced of writers. No author has stood on a mountain of accomplishment without a couple pitfalls to remember. Writer’s block is an all-affecting, recurring obstacle that every serious author learns to overcome. Fortunately for the writer and his dormant ideas, writer’s block can be dissolved.
One thing every writer needs is new experiences. Whether it is a vacation away from work on a one-week plunge into the depths of debauchery, or a historic visit to the Mandarin Oriental where Lord Jim’s Joseph Conrad found inspiration in the novelty away from home, the world has an infinite number of pools to be tapped for reflection and revelation.
While new experiences open the door to never-before-seen marvels, it is imperative for an author to realize inspiration ultimately comes from within, and the most new experiences can do is awaken something in the heart of the writer, something that was waiting for the right catalyst. Motivation to write is more intrinsic than it is extrinsic. Just as a spirit fails to deliver true happiness, imbibing in experience does not create new ideas. Writing does not rely on the saving grace of new information as much as it relies on the recasting, revisiting, and reflection on the author’s part on that which was already seen. A man with a closed mind can visit any number of shrines and not experience any change in perspective. That man must open his mind, altering his outlook on all which he thought he knew before.
Some writers take time to read and write letters of correspondence with others in order to spark a flame. Others form routines of creative writing to assure some ink gets spilled every day. Whatever his personal preference, a good writer understands the importance of discipline and regularity. While discovery, by its nature, is not a routine experience, an untrained eye will miss many opportunities for exploration. Many do-it-yourself books on the market can help authors of all levels maintain a standardized writing schedule. Plus, writing one piece on any topic will get the ball rolling and allow for a clearer flow of ideas.
As an author scales the landscapes of creativity and explores the uncharted territories of ideation, he keeps his visions close to his heart, and opens himself to the unknown.