Writer’s Block: Master to the Rescue

Scene I: Kitchen table, Time: Late evening


“She has been sleeping for quite a while now, I think I should wake her up, I thought she had some deadline to submit that assignment for her writing course,” her mother said, keeping the empty coffee cup in the sink.

“She has been under a lot of stress lately, trying to do so much with her job, and this class, and that good-for-nothing-boyfriend of hers…not sure if it is funny or sad that she seemed to be struggling with…eh…what you call it…writer’s block, and that too for an assignment on this very topic,” her father remarked while picking up the last cookie from the plate and putting it in his mouth.


Scene II: Bedroom, Time: Late evening, a few minutes later


Frantically typing something on her laptop, she looked up when her mother entered the room and said, “Oh, I am so glad you are here…give me a minute and I’ll show you what I’ve got; can’t believe how it all happened, but all that I will tell you later…here, it is done, come take a look.”

“She has been sleeping for quite a while now, I think I should wake her up…”
“Yes, she seemed to be struggling with something like writer’s block for an assignment on this very topic…”
In the meanwhile, in the bedroom, waking up from a dream she started typing…
Q: …why or how the mind-fag has come in and by what attitude or process it can quickly pass off…
Sri Aurobindo: There is nothing serious in it. Very often when the mind has been doing something for a long time (I mean of course the physical mind), something which demands intensity of work or action, not what can be done as a routine, it finds itself unable to do it well any longer. That means that it is strained, needs rest so that the force may gather again. Rest or a variation. A little rest given to it or a variation of work should set it right again.
Q: I thought that one or two hours’ work without undue effort might perhaps keep the channel open and at the same time produce no fatigue.
Sri Aurobindo: It is not a question of ordinary fatigue by overwork – but of a temporary inability to go on doing the same thing over and over any longer. That is what I mean by mind-fag. It is not the mere writing of poetry of any kind but the intensity necessary to bring down that kind of poetry that is in question. The channel in fact is not working because of the fag – it can work again only after rest, by not forcing oneself.

“And the best part is that it was something I dreamed about, or at least I think it was a dream, otherwise I can’t explain any of this,” she beamed and looked curiously at her mother’s face.


Scene III: Chennai Airport, Time: Late evening, a year later


Having learned the value of proper rest to cure herself of mind-fag and mental exhaustion, she was on her way to Pondicherry to learn more about the language of dreams, and about Sri Aurobindo whose name she had ‘seen’ in her dream, for the first time that afternoon in her Phoenix home.

While waiting for the cab she had pre-booked to take her to Pondicherry, she recalled the day she had said goodbye to her job at the software company, and then to her boyfriend whom her father almost always referred to as ‘good-for-nothing’. A smile came on her face as she recalled the title of her assignment that she submitted a year ago in her Writing class –

“Five Ways to Cure Writer’s Block: Rest, Variation, Dream, Awareness, and Rest!”


Writers Block-calvinandhobbes


Reference: Nirodbaran’s Correspondence with Sri Aurobindo (Vol. 2, Third Impression, 2001, p. 654, dated August 17, 1936)


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