The birds need feeding? Where’s the chocolate? Is the cat thinking about throwing up? Did I hear the faucet leaking? Doesn’t the garbage need to be taken out—for the third time?
OK, so there are many jokes about writers doing anything to avoid facing the blank page. When The Block hits or The Deadline arrives (and you are only at page five), root canals seem viable. Yes, root canals even without the dental opiates. Creation can be more painful. But our own resistance to sitting down in front of (writing object of choice) is the least of our roadblock worries.
Life always gets in the way of writing. The kids are sick. The faucet really is leaking. The person you haven’t seen since Grade Three just called and is dying to catch up on the last 60 years. Oh, and that monster limb from the tree in front of the house? It just broke through the roof. I often wonder if I should take that day off from The Book to go the wine country. Tomorrow the furnace might die just when the Arctic Vortex is supposed to hit, and I won’t have that extra day.
So what to do when roadblocks interfere with the writing life? Some we can face and shove aside. Some we can’t. Chocolate might be obligatory, but the garbage can sit for a few more hours. As for sick kids, they’ve got priority, but maybe screening calls is a good idea. Did you even like that person in Grade Three?
Of course, I am joking here, but life often does demand our complete attention when we can least afford that. Divorces happen or a family tragedy. Real stuff that takes all of our emotional reserves, something that creativity demands as well. Those are the times when we care for the human needs first. Sometimes writing gives us the needed stuff to get us through the rough times, but we are writers because we care about the human factor. We know that sometimes the writing must be set aside no matter what the deadline.
In the long run, however, those moments that produce our most difficult personal roadblocks also allow us to serve our readers better. Our experiences allow us to imbue our characters with extra dimension and that may help readers get over the roadblocks in their own lives. We are writers. Even roadblocks can be useful.