A day in the life: Writer’s Block Edition

October 30, 2018

So this happened…

Here’s a day in the life of my writer’s block.


Guess you are. ‘Cause we’re gonna get right into it today.

Welcome to the mean streets of Barcelona, on a chilly autumn day, 2018, when I was walking around and wondering what to write.

It’s gonna be an adventure.

Let’s go…

Early to bed and early to rise

7:20 – I’m up before the alarm, as usual. Pour a little cold coffee from yesterday. Twenty minutes on the couch to read. Don’t look at the phone. Don’t get sucked into the bikini-and-travel photo vortex on Instagram. I read a little bit of Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach. I’m gonna escape samsara once and for all – hopefully soon.

7:35 – Morena’s alarm goes off. I go into the room to give her a hug. 5 minutes later I’m still there, when my alarm goes off out in the living room. I get back up. We do normal-people-getting-up stuff for a while. Morena showers and puts on seven types of jewelry. When she’s done I walk her out to the bus.

8:30 – Morena’s on the bus and I’m at the café on the beach. The usual place. Double espresso: 2,05€. Why that price? I don’t know. But at least it keeps me saving my 5 cent pieces. I read a bit of James Clear’s new book Atomic Habits while I’m drinking my coffee. How many books am I in the middle of right now? Probably 12.

The plumb man cometh

9:04 – Back at home. A little bit annoyed that I can’t go to boxing class today, but I’m sore as shit from yesterday’s workout anyway. The reason I can’t go is that the plumber is coming. He says 9:30, I suspect it’ll be more like 12. Anyway, I don’t want to not be here. I futz around the house, look at email, drink some bone broth (super paleo, makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside) and read a bit of news. Where will they re-bury Franco? The German nurse who killed 100 people “out of boredom”. The triumphant return of Avian Flu – the pandemic we’ve all been waiting for.

writer's block in barcelona
Boxing on the beach here in Barcelona. You should come!

9:50 – The plumber’s here, and he’s (almost) on time. Biggest guy I’ve seen in a while. He pokes around under the sink, pulls out a disgusting, smelly blob of “dried up soap and old food” and then leaves. Back tomorrow, to actually fix the thing.

10:20 – I should write something, but I have absolutely no idea what. Maybe a walk along the beach will clear my head. A lot of the great creators got their best ideas while walking. I go left, towards the casino. Not many people out. A few moms with very young kids. A couple of shirtless guys playing volleyball. None of the mostly-naked butts and abundant tattoos of summer.

Going nowhere, slowly…

11:20 – Longer walk than I planned. The map on the beach says I’m next to the Rambla de Poblenou. A Rambla that sucks less than the overcrowded touristy Rambla? Let’s check it out. Anyway, it’s getting close to time for another coffee.

11:30 – Rambla de Poblenou. Mass tourism seems not to have gotten here yet. Lots of old people. The locals: whoever is out drinking beer and coffee on a terraza at this time of day. A couple of nice-looking restaurants. Organic supermarkets. I wonder if the people here are getting fucked by rent prices like I am.

11:49 – I have no idea what I’m going to write about.

12:25 – Google maps says this place on Diagonal is either one of the best or one of the worst Chinese restaurants in Barcelona. The 1-star reviews are pretty bad. But a lot of people say it’s great. Maybe I’ll come back in an hour for lunch.

12:33 – Henry Miller used to write about being a writer who couldn’t write, hungry and pacing the streets of Paris in the 1930s. Why can’t I be more like Henry Miller?

12:55 – Barcelona’s giant pickle.

Somewhere on Avinguda Diagonal, Barcelona.

13:04 – Apparently this is Plaça de las Glories Catalanes. Funny, it just seems to be a giant construction site. Can’t see a single glorious thing.

13:12 – Never been in this part of town before. I can see Sagrada Familia up on my right. What a dump. On the other side of the pickle, there’s a little “flea market” consisting of people selling stuff they’ve pulled out of the garbage. The police are just coming to break it up. An old guy with awful posture is too slow to grab his stuff and leave, so a cop comes over and kicks a pair of old tennis shoes off his blanket and sends him shuffling away.

13:45 – I’ve made it down to Tetuán. The Barcelona version. Just like in Madrid, it’s got a lot of Chinese restaurants. I’ve put off the coffee for so long that now it’s time for beer instead. I go to a place near Arc de Triomf – the arch which commemorates no actual triumph. The waitress has a very squeaky voice. She warns me off of one beer because it’s gluten free. I get one with gluten instead. I just pick by the label anyway.

arc de triomf barcelona
Arc de Triomf, BCN version.

14:15 – Is this what writer’s block feels like? I’d better get some Chinese food. The spicy kind.

15:45 – My stomach’s tingling with red chile and I’m on the way home. Siesta time. Surely I’ll wake up with some idea of what to write. Maybe I just need to stop being a baby and sit in front of a blank screen for a while. “Power through” as the saying goes.

16:02 – Instagram is sending me ads about “how to be successful”. Some whiz kid sitting on the hood of an expensive car. Be a consultant! High-ticket this. Low-calorie that. Six figures. Perfect abs. Kill me now.

17:20 – Awake. Still sore. Throat hurts. I just feel awful all around. Oh well. Let’s get some whisky and lemons and call it a day.

And finally back at home…

17:55 – Back home and still haven’t written anything. Oh, I’ve got a great idea… why not write about writer’s block? Thanks, frontal lobes. I owe you one.

18:40 – Morena’s back from work. Apparently I left the door open behind me when I came back. Abstentminded and sleepy. We agree to get pizza for dinner. Sweet, delicious pizza.

19:37 – Well, this is better than having written nothing all day. Time to hit publish… almost.

19:48 – Editing done. I feel like shit. Time for that whiskey and lemon? No, actually it’s not. Pizza soon. Can’t sleep now. 

No rest for the wicked(ly) handsome

Well, at least I wrote something today. 

I’ve been kind of lazy since I moved to Barcelona. It’s really messed with my schedule. And anyway, what do I have left to write about?

Plenty of things, probably. I’m just not sure what they are.

If you want more instalments in the life of a digital nomad or whatever the hell I am, check out: London Edition, the Hero’s Journey and Adventures without Running Water.

Or you can head on over to Back on the Ranch, my humble origin story from way out in the wastelands of Sonora. I think that’s some of my best work.

In any case, have a good one.

Possibly-coming-down-with-avian-fluly yours,

Mr Chorizo.

P.D. Got any tricks for overcoming writer’s block? Let me know right here in the comments. Thanks! And also, check out my article about working in Spain. It’ll be fun, I promise.

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About the Author Daniel

How did I end up in Spain? Why am I still here almost 20 years later? Excellent questions. With no good answer... Anyway, at some point I became a blogger, bestselling author and contributor to Lonely Planet. So there's that. Drop me a line, I'm happy to hear from you.

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