Sumita Chakraborty Recommends...

“For me, feeling stuck in my writing really boils down to a sense of loneliness. The idea that writing is a solitary praxis is a truism for a reason, but that doesn’t mean that even the most private or individually driven writer doesn’t require some sense of community, of kinship, of conversation. When I feel like I can’t write, that feeling tends to stem from or be a manifestation of a sense that I have no one and nothing with whom or which to speak. Sometimes it’s worth dwelling on this solitude and loneliness. There have been times when it’s been in my best interest to honor the sensation and not force myself to speak. But if I do need or want to break the silence, it helps to bring another mind or piece into the page with me. First, the experience of foraging for that interlocutor reminds me that there are people and minds and works that I love, that I love talking to, and that I feel speak to me. Then, the act of writing becomes an opportunity to speak with them (instead of feeling like an act of generating verbiage into a void) and gives my own words a sense of purpose. So if you’re feeling stuck, here’s my two cents: find your work a beloved. Try a translation (or a homophonic translation); try an ekphrasis; write a monologue in the voice of a favorite character from a movie or a show (or write a description of that person in a scene that you love); write a poem in which you imagine yourself curled up next to an animal from a viral video of an interspecies friendship that you’ve watched on a loop sometime recently; write a found poem or make an erasure; make a cento out of lines from your favorite poets or texts from your friends. Remind yourself of the yous, the theys, and the wes that your I loves.”
—Sumita Chakraborty, author of Arrow (Alice James Books, 2020)