Have you ever encountered a four-year-old who hasn't eaten enough? It's not pretty. It almost always involves a tantrum with screaming and tears -- and maybe even kicking and punching. But offer some apple juice, fishy crackers and a cheese string and, voila, the problem is usually solved.

Writing hissy fits aren't nearly as dramatic, but they are painful in their own unique way. They may involve throwing pencils across the desk, slamming drawers, staring endlessly at a blank screen and entertaining fantasies of another career -- something fun, like, say, forensic accounting or garbage collecting.

Of course, a quick glug of apple juice won't solve this kind of problem. That's because when it comes to writing, the food that matters is metaphorical.

Writing is a mostly inscrutable process that occurs inside our heads long before it's transferred to the page or screen via our fingers. In order to write well, we need ideas. And where do those ideas come from? Well, I can tell you they don't come from reading annual reports, strategic plans and marketing brochures.

To write easily, fluently and interestingly, we need to be "filled up" with thoughts and images. These come from going to movies, reading novels, taking walks in the park, talking with friends, listening to music. In short, we all need a "well" to draw upon; we cannot write if we're sucked entirely dry.

Remember: each and every piece of writing you create (note that word “create”!) leads to a deficit in your brain. Before your mental bank account goes into the “overdrawn” position, make certain you have a list of the fun things you enjoy. Then, be sure to replenish yourself with whatever "sustains" you -- whether it's reading a novel, going to a hockey match or playing a game of Twister with your kids.

This is not self-indulgent or a waste of time -- it's a necessity. You simply cannot work all the time. But you especially can’t work all the time as a writer. Otherwise you'll be like the four-year-old, kicking and screaming on the floor. And it's awfully hard to get much writing done from that position.