The little known, 2009 rom-com indie flic, Feed the Fish features a protagonist wrestling with a gnarly writer’s block. He had a very good response to his first book, but has been unable to get started on the second of a nine-book contract. His publisher has paid him a hefty advance, and after 6 months without any hint of the sequel, they are asking for their money back.
As is typical in writer block movies, his cure occurs as he resolves personal and romantic issues, but this one also includes an impulsive escape from LA into the bitter cold of the northern midwest, live goldfish frozen in their bowl, Tony Shaloub as a bitter, gun-happy sheriff, insane ice water plunging rituals, exploding sheds, nearly-naked snow-rolling, multiple head injury hospitalizations and badger-inflicted genital mutilation.
If that’s what it takes to get writing again, I guess it’s worth it. Not all block cures are simple or easy. There are some good scenes in the beginning of the movie that illustrate how a bad writing block can harm a romantic relationship as we see Ross’s girlfriend’s mounting discontent while she watches him do nothing as the weeks go by. When her anger erupts and she flushes his favorite goldfish down the toilet, Ross’s will is finally galvanized into action by his anger.
Ross pulls a geographic intervention and goes off with his friend to the icy midwest. He shakes up his usual habits to see what will happen. I have seen this approach work with writers who are stuck. Just change something in your life and maybe a shift will happen with the writing. Sometimes it’s as easy as changing your place of writing to a new cafe, and doesn’t require medical emergencies or near-death, frozen lake baptisms. I liken this approach to rebooting you laptop when it malfunctions. Every once in a while it works and you’re back online. It’s worth a try.
Happy ending: new girlfriend, new home, new book. Check it out.