I didn’t know a concept called Reader’s Block existed till I went through a slump myself. For someone who loves books like I do, not being able to read regardless of having dedicated time for it is a very strange feeling. Ever been through something like this before?
It’s raining on a pleasant day, you sit by the balcony, on your bean bag, doors open, legs stretched out into the balcony, a soft spray of rain occasionally falling on your feet, like the winds are trying to tease you with a kiss, and you have a nice steaming cup of coffee beside you, your favourite book in hand, and as you read you are not able to move beyond those first lines. Not able to go into that world, not able to see those characters, hear their voices say those lines. You are just reading the first few lines over and over again. And you get worried. Worried because you know you couldn’t find a better situation to be in and yet there seems to be no interest to do what you love the most. It’s the kind of feeling that’ll set you on a panic mode.
It did to me. It scared the hell out of me. It kept me awake at night wondering. All that worrying made me lose focus on my other daily activities. I became easily irritable. Always on the edge. Always on the brim of tears. I just couldn’t figure out what had happened. Why was I not able to read? Why was I not interested? What brought about this change? And worse still, was this change permanent? Will I never like reading again?
And that’s when I stopped. Not reading. I stopped worrying.
I remembered something I had heard a long time ago, “No matter what happens in one’s life, no matter how much a person changes, the one thing that’ll never change is their likes, their passion, what they are drawn to.” So with this little hope, I decided to stop thinking about the past and focus on the future. Stopped worrying about what caused this slump and started focussing on how to get over it.
And that’s when I came across the phenomenon called Reader’s Block. Not uncommon. Just something not everyone talks about. There is this strange solace in having company for your struggles, even though you know very well that each one has to fight it out on their own.
So what do you do when you find yourself facing a Reader’s Block? Here are my tips, for lack of a better word, to get through this.
1. It’s OK to panic. Just try not to stay there
2. Keep the books aside. Start focussing on something else that has been on the back burner for a while. That long due online course, that recipe you’ve pinned for later, a shelf to rearrange, maybe even a room, that exhibition that’s almost reached its final days, that to do list that seems to have more tasks added on than crossed out. Anything. Just make sure it is something that will require you to actually move around. Something physical
I, for one, found a set of keys I’d been ‘searching’ for over 2 months.
3. Be patient with yourself. Give it time. A few days, a week. Take your own time between these ‘stages’
4. Catch up with an old friend. Actually TALK to another human. About anything. Reconnect with someone
5. Read a comic book. A manga. A webtoon. Whatever suits you. Something light
6. Carry a novel with you in your bag. Take it with you wherever you go. A favourite. Something that you can start reading from anywhere in between and keep going. The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff has been to quite a few meetings and coffee shops with me now
When the time is right you’ll find yourself having that wonderful feeling again. That urge to read. And when you look up, you’ll see that book calling out to you. The one that’s been holding you off for so long
You’ll pick it up. Sit right where you are. No soft rains kissing you feet. No comfortable bean bag. No steaming coffee. Just you and the world in those pages.
And you’ll smile once again. Finally.
Photos: Remya Nair