The peculiar way Joan Didion would cope with writer's block.

Written by Cole Schafer


Griffin Dunne is enamored with his aunt, a writer you’ve very likely heard of, Joan Didion.

So much so that he started a crowdfunding campaign a good while back to make a documentary about her, her work and her life which has had more than its fair share of trauma.

The campaign was a success, going on to raise $200,000, and later being picked up by Netflix.

Last night, I happened upon this gem.

So, late last night, I’m scrolling through Netflix inching ever closer to waving the white flag as the titles begin to blend together like some sort of puree.

The moment all hope is lost, I land on Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold. And, for the next hour and a half, I find myself entranced, falling in love with this writer and cultural icon that at the age of eighty-six still has a bizarre amount of charm and flair.

I won’t attempt to recite all the details of the documentary in this short article. But, there was a story that I thought was peculiar and hilarious and lovely.

It was about how Didion would cope with writer’s block.

Just stick it in the freezer.

When Didion found herself feeling stuck, she would do the exact opposite of what most writers do.

Instead of hammering away at the page, she would place her manuscript in a Ziplock, seal it, stick it in the freezer and then step away.

It’s a bit absurd and dramatic. But, at the same time, a beautiful metaphor for life…

If something isn’t working, stop working, put it on ice and walk away for a little while.

By Cole Schafer.