Writer’s block is an affliction that may occasionally affect any writer, and perhaps does strike all writers, from time to time, excepting, perhaps, writers like Vollmann, but who knows, even the graphomaniac may come down with a cold pen now and then, and how much worse must it feel for a Beckett, who can’t imagine without words, than a Salinger, who, apparently, can. Other writers, or would be writers, develop graphophobia, reduced to wanting in effect to know where it comes from – presumably the same place any other phobia comes from, but that knowledge alone won’t remove the writer’s block.
Writer’s block is like a hitless streak, the batter walking to the plate three or four times night after night and going hitless, walking head down back to the bench, bat in hand, each hitless at-bat adding to the streak. He resorts to superstition (wears the same pair of socks he was wearing when he got his last hit – inside out); changes bat size, alters batting stance; takes twice the number of pitches in batting practice before the game. But he grows silent, moves to the end of the bench, sulks. He runs out of distracting witticisms with which to amuse the sportswriter, rushes to the shower to avoid the radio interview. He’s given a night off, a night on the bench, and the batter who takes his place goes three for four and scores a run. The hit-blocked batter is living in a drought, and his muse likes water.
The cure for writer’s block is the same as the cure for a hitting slump. Return to basics: shut out the crowd; keep your eye on the ball; swing purposefully; and don’t try to pulverize the ball – just meet the ball, swing through the ball, and, above all, relax, take it easy, stay loose. It’s just a game.