It has been a while since I have written a blog. Last 3 years, I have been spending all my creative energy in bringing up my start up. My mind space was taken up by the company, its products, clients, research, prospecting, and whatever written word came out of me was going into pitches, emails, training content, contracts, website content. Pretty left brain stuff. It was all technical writing and editing. The only right brain stuff I managed to do was to make all the marketing collaterals look pretty.
I thought I would continue in the same technical writing spree when I sat down to write our first newsletter. But, I sat down to write our first newsletter and struggled. Words struggled to come out of me, and when they did, they felt like a spillage of ink on a newspaper. The news was there but it was marred by a desperate attempt to make it sound nice and flowing.To me it looked like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle shouting to come together, but I had no reference image for it. It took me way too long to come up with something that was remotely okay to read, informative and which did not sound like I was brazenly blowing my own horn. It took me so long that the news became stale.
It was devastating, and I didn’t have the courage to take up the next edition of the newsletter. I was devastated that I, now, hated to write. I continued to be ashamed of it. I did not attempt any other piece of writing, in terror of having the same devastating feeling again, of words jumbled up inside me, formless, almost strangling me but refusing to make any coherent sense when they came out on paper.
Is this what they call a writer’s block?
I tried to label it as my laziness. I got flak for it from my husband, who happens to be my partner in the company, because website content became stale. News did not go up there. I opened word doc after word doc and wrote a few lines. But nothing made me feel that sense of contentedness that you have once you have written a piece from your heart. And that really broke me.
At one point I just could not take it any more. I gave up the struggle. I surrendered. I sought help from nature. And stopped waiting for help.
And that’s exactly then, that help came, magically, unexpectedly! I had gone for a Teacher’s special retreat with His Holiness Sri Sri Ravishankar ji at the Art of Living International Center in Bangalore this summer (as I happen to be a teacher of the Happiness Program and Corporate Program of the Art of Living). It was supposed to be 7 days of silence, meditation, yoga. What had words got to do with it?
But with Gurudev (as we call Sri Sri out of affection) around, you can always expect the unexpected. It was Day 1 of the program. He made silence optional – and those who opted for partial silence, He made them go into full silence, and those who opted for full silence, He made them go for partial silence!!!!
And He asked everyone to write.
Write what? Any thing that came to the mind.
And then He spoke about how He has writer’s blocks and how He still keeps at it. He said “I often do not like anything I write. I write and strike out and write again. Remember something – it doesn’t have to be perfect. Just write what comes to your mind and it will all fall in place”
I could not believe my ears. And tears rolled down my cheeks. Never had anyone heard Him talk about His writer’s block, and never in the history of any of these programs had He ever asked anyone to do creative writing. It was as if he had made this program for me. He was speaking directly to me like a friend would (even in a crowd of thousands), and pushing me to break my writer’s block.
The next few days he encouraged people to come up and share their writings. People who had never done any creative writing in their entire lives, had written amazingly beautiful verses, humorous pieces and odes to Gurudev. We sometimes had a good time to listening to all those, and sometimes got bored, wanting to hear Gurudev speak more than anyone else. But such is His magnanimity that He sat on stage patiently giving a ear to everyone’s musings.
I scribbled my own few private lines and was happy like a child that the person who had the writer’s block had vanished and my own self was shining through.
Thank you, Gurudev!
Once I came back home, I did a few more exercises in writing with my very talented writer friend. Sukanya Das – who has been a food columnist in Femina and a sought after editor of books, and who, like I would like to, writes unabashed and from the heart. We were arch rivals in school in English grammar and literature classes, but life brought us close in strange ways. That’s another story that I will tell some other day. She helped me get comfortable with words again, and helped me look at them unconditionally, without undue expectations of brilliance! Thank you, my dear friend!
So here I am, writing this piece, and making a promise to myself to not give up writing, ever again, even if words give up on me!
I have to thank my husband for his patience with my unproductivity in writing, even though it hurt the company in some ways. He never lost faith in me, and still referred me when someone was looking for blog writers on yoga!
And to my dear friends Bhairavi, Sudipta, Piu, Priyanka.. and my family, my mom, my aunts – who loved everything I ever wrote and always kept encouraging me to write more. I shall write for you now and always.
And I am encouraging my mom to write about her spiritual experiences and dreams and premonitions. She has a way of story telling which has her audience mesmerized. Write my dear mother, for who knows, through our writings someone’s day is made, someone may find solace, someone may get a ray of hope. Or someone might just sleep well!
(c) Debjani Mitra at debjanimitra.wordpress.com