November 17, 2016

Smashing (into) the writing wall - by Rohadi

I’d hit the wall. It was a recent Spring, the unofficial kick-off to ‘fun' when activities ramp up and outdoor adventures begin. You hibernate and slow down in Winter, that’s acceptable, but Spring/Summer?! Creativity should be at your fingertips! Just look at the trees, that sun is shining, BBQs are in full swing! 

After publishing my colouring book project everything in my writing life ground to a halt. There were things to do—there are always things to do—but finding momentum and inspiration to do the work was nascent at best. 

I'd hit the wall and could do anything but write.

In that space I knew something needed to change, I needed to change, anything needed change. So I tried to make some changes to shed the weight of nothing. 

I thought, maybe I should buy a new computer, that’ll get me writing. (I’ve run out of rooms to put the old ones….) What about a trip to the pen store? That might inspire me. Maybe I’ll start drinking in the morning? I’m sure some famous writer needed a shot of something to start the day? Even without a morning mimosa I wasn’t thinking clearly.

Writing is work, and sometimes you don’t want to go to work. In fact, there are seasons, particularly when you’re not a daily professional with outlined deadlines that someone else depends on, when doing nothing is easy. We've all faced these kinds of struggles, but this time was a different somehow.... Lots to do but so little desire to do them. 

Maybe I'll quit?

Too harsh.

Maybe I'll take a break.

I took a break from it all and rested. Rather than being mopey all Summer I paused to reflect on the past and what was coming in the future. In that time I did a few little things on purpose to prepare for a fresh start even when I couldn't say when that would be. I re-arranged my office; better to look out the window rather than an empty wall. I found a new notebook and some books to read. I took a vacation.

Change and pause are instrumental to capture the new while balancing the old routines. (In case you're wondering, there's no timetable when a 'pause' should end.)

Think about this: nobody walks into a winery or liquor store and exclaims, “Where’s your newest bottle of wine?! I’m looking for a 2016 vintage!” Ignoring the fact '2016' and 'vintage' don’t go together until 2066, the notion remains ridiculous. Nobody values new wine.

There’s a parable where Jesus talks about old wine and new wine skins. The two don’t mix. But the thing is, neither is regarded as better than the other. Old wine has vintage and value. New wine is fresh with possibility although requires the new package for accommodation. 

Balancing new habits with a combination of the necessary ‘old’ is a constant rhythm in my writing journey. I have to re-articulate goals, remind myself of my necessary writing routine (and stick with it), commit to deadlines, read voraciously, and constantly improve my prose through input and review, find new challenges, (for the record there’s no pen store), and take moments (or seasons) to get away from it all. 

Then, and maybe then, I'll break through the wall.


Visit rohadi on his blog and check out his adult bible colouring book.


  1. Thanks for sharing your story. Your metaphor of "the wall" was particularly vivid.

  2. You're right, Rohadi. Most of us can't be "up" all the time, and we do need to cut ourselves some slack. For our writing group, we've had one-day retreats at someone's home. I have a friend who just books herself into a hotel for a couple days to read and write. I've heard of people who prepare meals ahead and then map out a schedule of reading and writing for the day. I think that's worth a try. This is less expensive than the hotel days or travelling to a distant retreat. Or just take a break and tell yourself you'll be back at your desk on a certain date, come rain, sunshine, or snow.

    All the best, Rohadi!


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