Benjamin Garcia Recommends...

“Last week a non-writer friend asked Facebook for advice on how to separate two drinking glasses that were stuck together. The hive mind responded: dunk the bottom glass in hot water and fill the top one with ice; add dish soap at the joint and wiggle; add oil; stick a straw between them; use a knife; flip them and tap against a wooden counter; put them in the oven at low heat and wait; the freezer overnight; the microwave. Writing advice is like this—what works for one person won’t work for everyone. So with that in mind, my advice is to move away from the framework of ‘stuck vs. unstuck.’

As a writer, I find it more helpful to think: Is this a moment of filling the pitcher or a moment of pouring a glass? When I’m stuck maybe I’m just not ready to pour? So I fill up by reading poetry that excites me, reading poetry I don’t always get, watching nature documentaries, writing notes over a period of days, researching the etymology of words important to a line or poem, listening to musicals I enjoy and trying to hear the line breaks or language play or the sheer joy of sound. Filling requires patience, but it doesn’t mean that you’re passively waiting for the muse to serve you a drink with an umbrella in it. Sometimes you have to find a different container or add new ingredients. But if you keep filling, something is bound to pour.

And if you are truly stuck, I mean you just can’t budge, maybe it’s okay to break one of the glasses. There will be other glasses.”
—Benjamin Garcia, author of Thrown in the Throat (Milkweed Editions, 2020)