It might sound as if I’m stating the obvious but I’ve found that the best cure for the condition known as ‘writers’ block’ is to just go ahead and write. Of course it is the easiest thing in the world for an author to find an excuse NOT to write. Hungover? A bit of a headache coming on? Broken up with the boyfriend? I have a target of 1500 words a day. It’s rather strange but I sometimes do my best work when I’m not feeling very fit and I make myself sit down at the keyboard and force myself to write. Some of my best ideas have materialized when I’ve not really felt up to the task.
William Somerset Maugham was a master novelist, dramatist and short story writer. I think he’s probably a bit out fashion these days but during the 1930’s he was the best-selling author in the world. Several films have been made out of his yarns. Maugham had a pretty eventful life. He trained as a medical doctor before taking up writing. He also worked as a spy for the British Government during the First World War and he travelled extensively throughout Asia. These adventures gave him a great deal of material for his stories.
Even if he had no idea of what he was going to write Somerset Maugham would force himself to sit at his desk each morning. If no words came to him he would simply write his own signature over and over again until the ideas started to flow. He was a very prolific writer and towards the end of his life he would often completely forget what he’d written in previous years. There was an occasion when he was having lunch with his literary agent in Paris. Full of excitement he told his friend of a brand new story he was going to work on – it would involve adultery and espionage. After he’d revealed the plot to his companion the agent shook his head and said, “I’m afraid it won’t do Willie.You wrote that novel twenty five years ago.”