Going off to a cabin to write, charming as it may be, always struck me as dreaming, not doing (See also: fancy journals, focus-writing apps and my own dumb idée fixe, specialized word processors). The lack of the thing becomes an excuse, and the presence of the thing fails to result in more writing. In exploring this conundrum, Blair Braverman headed to a cabin to write and reports back.
My plan for my new life was simple, or so I thought. I'd rise each morning, drink herbal tea, walk on the same trail, watch wildlife, and write down my meditations about the natural world. Then I would come home to my little cabin and have the whole afternoon to work on my book: a combination of memoir and reflection on nature. I have with me the crates of books that I hauled down four flights of stairs from my old apartment, thinking they would inspire me—not just to write, but to work through the trauma that I felt I couldn't process in my old life. I wanted to find myself here, through a combination of nature and art. But now, day after day, I have nothing interesting to say about nature, and I feel terrified that there is no me to find.
I haven't written anything. I'm bored
Braverman writes that the lack of cabin was not the problem and precisely describes a real one—"I think that a lot of writer's block comes from trying to write something you don't really mean"—which often leads to all the journals/apps/hardware/cabins hankering.
Those things often get put down to avoidance, lifestyle fantasizing, procrastination and so on. Which I suppose I did in the first line of this post. But it also strikes me that one might genuinely need those things for other reasons that are getting tangled up in the writing problem. The cabin is not for writing, for example, but for relaxing for a few days as a prelude to writing. We're so terrible at taking time off that we think that the point of going on vacation is to work harder.