In the movie Finding Forrester, Sean Connery plays William Forrester, a washed-up recluse whose career as an author has collapsed after his first novel created a sensation many years earlier. Guilt, grief and disillusionment contributed to his withdrawal from society and writing at the height of his success. (Strains of J.D. Salinger‘s life are resonating here.)
Sean finds his way back to his own literary passion through a chance meeting with a talented high school student that he ends up mentoring. Long story short; he helps the kid through a tough patch and finally writes another book.
Finding Forrester is a cinematic portrayal of how helping others with their writing can be a vehicle for helping yourself. If you are in a position to help someone as they try to get going and become more productive, you may tap into your own inspiration as well.
I encourage small group discussions in my classes with blocked and procrastinating writers, because these interactions provide connections, validations, and information that end up being useful in the process of developing a more productive writing routine. Many, many people struggle with these issues, and it is a relief to discover you are not alone, and that change is possible.
You don’t have to be a genius like Forrester to help someone either. Sometimes it’s very simple. Encouragement, support, listening, sharing your experience, and offering a few tips here and there when you sense there is an openness to hear them. “Helping” has to be done with the right motivation in any case, and if you make strong recommendations to another writer who hasn’t really asked for your input, don’t be surprised if it doesn’t go well.
Forrester was very isolated during his decades-long writing drought. This is a common feature with writing blocks. If you are quite isolated, whether you become a helper or helpee may be immaterial. Find someone to connect with around your writing and see what happens.