blank out

Walter Mitty

Image via Wikipedia

My family, the four people it consists of, and my partner who I live with all have the peculiar habit of blanking out. If you browse through all my friends and acquaintances, you will see that they all take a liking to the act of blanking out. This is just an ounce of Walter Mitty in each of us.

I spend most of my day trying a variety of writing exercises. I read. I write. I paint. I eat. I cook. I read. I write. I paint. And in whatever way I can, I make plays.

So blanking out is a very crucial part of my things-to-do in a day. It is the frequent blank-outs that take me to different worlds or spin me around in the same world where I am now washing dishes and makes me think…

“Rust, grease or oil are not permanent. Lime and vinegar manage to wash it away with a light scrub. Maybe, I should start making my own soap instead of buying all these brands. Maybe, many more things can be made like this at home. Maybe, that would reduce economic strain and would also give me so many nice things to do at home. I should really bring this place down and clean it.” Slowly, I’ll blank out completely, and I’ll have memory of only a few words after hours of work – blue, desire, journey, and lime. These were the words I came back with after making coffee.

I think it is extremely important to let our minds waft in the wind jumping from reality to what may seem unreal. It allows me to freely associate, correlate and understand this world and all that it throws to me. Of course, just sitting blanked out doesn’t help. This same family, my mother, my father, my sister and my partner, write, draw, perform, and make things in this process.

Writing has always helped me clarify thoughts, questions, concepts and dilemmas. However, I use a lot of exercises in order to understand the craft of writing.

One day, in a similar blank-out my sister lay silent for an hour or so. She had her back to me and I was engrossed in some book that I do not remember. Wanting to know if I could switch off the light, I climbed to her other side, to see her intently shifting the pages of a large dictionary. I still make fun of her for reading a dictionary without actually knowing for an hour or so. Today, I actually read a dictionary. Why? Well, where else to go for words. It was great fun. Try it! Maybe, pick up a large illustrated one that doubles as encyclopedia. Words have a way pushing us to write.

Cover of "One Continuous Mistake : Four N...

Cover via Amazon

In my third reading of One Continuous Mistake by Gail Sher, I was focusing on the silence of writing and reread many times today the chapter ‘Not Knowing’. Here, she talks about freshness  of writing, like that of the daily sun. After an entire book of exercises and perspectives, it hits hard when she says,

“What is the best way to write? Each of us has to discover her own way by writing. Writing teaches writing. No one can tell you your own secret.”

I was hesitant and skeptic to go beyond the pages. I walked around the house clutching the book in my hand. So, she is telling me she can’t teach me much or neither can anyone. ‘Writing teaches writing’. Hmmm… I agree. In fact, writing has taught me anything I know so far in my life. It is true.

Anyone who writes knows this to be true. We join a course, share with friends for criticism, read books, try out exercises, even get a degree in order to become writers, but forget that at the end of the day if we do not write-through the years we spend doing this, we have not learnt anything. Writing teaches writing.

Anyway, I am thinking of putting together a compilation of writing exercises that we could all use. Let me know, if you know any.

Real sore throat.

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5 Comments on “blank out”

  1. […] “blank out” As featured in boaconstrictor swallows elephant […]

  2. knot2share says:

    I know what you are doing to me gal!…That book – ever since you told me about it, I have been looking for it. None of the libraries near me have them. My search continues……

    I like your idea of collecting writing prompts. If you check the page FUN & LEARN on my blog, you will find some of the challenges that I managed to find online. I am sure you are aware of some of them anyway.

    On blanking out – I think this is a family trait in my case :-).

    • chaikadai says:

      Well if you live anywhere in India, since I don’t know much about you, I am not assuming to. I can try sending my copy over some time if you really want to read it. 🙂 Even abroad maybe if I have the money for courier I will soon. email me anytime at

      I will definitely look up the prompts on your blog soon. Just wrapping the play I am working in day after. I’ll have all the time for writing exercises then. 🙂

  3. knot2share says:


    I hope you are keeping well. Just popped in to check what was going on and most importantly to thank you for suggesting that book ONE CONTINUOUS MISTAKE. I could not find it in any close by libraries and book stores. So bought the e-book from Amazon and downloaded it. Reading it currently and this is most certainly a book to keep visiting over and over. I hope I will benefit out of it and am able to take some essence over a period of time. Thanks again!

    • chaikadai says:

      I am good. Not in this blog for one more week. Will be back and I will update dutifully! I am so happy you like the book. If I read anything else that is nice I will let you know. hug

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