Daniel Poliquin - a Canadian writer whose book A SECRET BETWEEN US was nominated for the Giller Prize, was asked about his cure for writer's block - and I couldn't resist sharing it with you because I can't think of a better cure for just about anything, not just writer's block.
I have never experienced writer's block because I write only when I am ready. But if I ever had one, I would try sex in the afternoon, followed by a movie matinee and a fine meal with my favourite wines.
Other writers, nominated for the Giller, were asked the same question, but his is the one that stuck out for me. I think as writers we sometimes think that our job, our art, forces us to be stringent with our pleasures, to be ascetics rather than sensualists. But I think, in most ways, the opposite is true. If we don't enjoy the pleasures of the world - that great glass of wine, the perfect meal, the absolutely gorgeous fall day that's outside my window today - we can't really write about that experience. Yes, our job is imagination. Yes, we need to be inside our own heads as writers. But having that experience, that sensual experience of the world, is crucial - at least it is for me.
Because having experienced that perfect meal, that wonderful movie, that amazing glass of wine or wonderful sexual experience, I can write about how it feels. Not just in my head, but in my body. And as a writer, I want to be able to convey to you how it tastes, how it sounds, how it feels, how it sounds. All five senses make a description more than just a visual, that make it possible to actually be there...
So today I'm going for a long walk on the beach. I'm going to smell the rich salt of the ocean, I'm going to taste the cool autumn air laden with the decomposition of the fallen leave, I'm going to hear the waves beat against the shore, the kids screaming with joy on the beach, I'm going to feel the sand on my feet (yes, I'm going to take off my sandals and walk on the cold damp sand), and I'm going to enjoy every one of those things. And then maybe one day when I need to write about something like that, I'm going to have it all in my head - ready.