Refrigerator Refuge for Blocked Writers

It’s possible to stare at the contents of a refrigerator for a long time when you don’t want to do something. The sight of food is compelling in a powerful and primal way. Entire television cable networks have been launched by lunches.

The sweet siren songs of food have pulled many an unsuspecting writer into the deadly maw of the refrigerator, and long periods of avoidance. As a writer you’re vulnerable because your poor, addled brain is desperately seeking something to soothe the cerebral suffering generated by the challenge of writing. It knows what is in the fridge, and it wants you to get it.

You have to eat, and if your nutrition is poor, writing ability is affected because the brain has to be well fueled to accomplish what a writing project requires. But when you get up from the desk because you feel stress, as opposed to hunger, you are reinforcing a habit that interferes with your writing goals.

Writing stress foods tend to reside on the high sugar, high fat, high carb shelf in the fridge. These substances enter the bloodstream with gusto and provide immediate gratification and a sense of relief. In other words, a much more positive corporeal experience than staring at a screen, struggling with a problem in your novel. In fact, even just staring at that shelf in the refrigerator works pretty good as a distractor when you don’t want to write.

In the Odyssey, Ulysses had his crew tie him to the mast of his ship when he sailed past the Sirens as they sang their beautiful songs so he wouldn’t leap into the sea and die. I knew a professor who attached an old automobile seat belt to the chair he sat in when he wrote. He buckled up for safety whenever he was writing, symbolically locking himself into his work for the day.

Sometimes this is what it takes.

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About David Arnot Rasch

Author, psychologist, speaker, workshop leader
This entry was posted in Common Writing Block Problems, The Blocked Writer's Book of the Dead and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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