I used to question and doubt the existence of writer’s block. That was before I started to go through prolonged periods of feeling like I had nothing to say. While I now do believe in writer’s block, I also believe that there are certain steps one can take to get through this period, however long it lasts. It is my hope that this series will be a resource for those who don’t know what to write about, are stuck in their current project, or just want to try something new.
When I am looking for something to write about, an activity that helps me, even though I tend to forget about doing it, is going to a coffee shop. I like to sit in the back. I observe what is going around me as if I am not a fly on the wall, but part of the wall itself, something that cannot be moved and is forced to watch the action happening all around. It is here that I am free to inspect. I try to inspect everything: people, clothes, smells, sounds, bits of conversation. People are their most natural when they do not expect someone to be watching them, and most do not expect a random writer to be listening to their conversation in a coffee shop. (At least, I hope not, as they provide valuable material.) I try not to listen to the conversation’s content as much as the way that they are speaking, moving, and communicating. I sometimes try to envision what the life of the person is. Where are they from? What dictates their past and their future? These figures will only be there, at the most, for a few hours, yet they have a whole life to return to. What does that life entail? Where do these people go when they are finished with their food and/or drink? And what in their life led them to this particular place at this particular time?
I like to envision and create based upon what I see in front of me and what I imagine happens behind closed doors. This is just me, though. Some people go to coffee shops for, I suppose, the actual coffee.
*Photo Courtesy of oculislabs.com. If you go to a coffee shop, don’t be as creepy as this guy.