At first, you’re optimistic. Hey, you’ve written before. It’s nothing new. You even like it. This won’t be so bad. It’ll be over before you know it.
The pep talk does nothing to cover up the fact that you know you have writer’s block. You don’t have a clue what to write about. It doesn’t matter that this isn’t your first rodeo. Writer’s block is no respecter of persons. Your hand hovers over the keyboard eternally as you try to capture just the right opening sentence.
Well, perhaps if you simply begin typing something will happen. At the instant of your first keystroke your mind becomes shifting sand, a vortex of nothing-data. Anxiety and frustration well up in your chest, while a sinking feeling begins to flush your innards, maybe your soul. You snap out of your unhappy trance to find that you’ve typed the letter “A.” You quickly wipe it out with the Backspace key, realizing all too well that you were subconsciously about to deliver The Shining’s most infamous line. “All work and no play…”
“What’s the point?”
Maybe you scream the words out in disgusted accusation. Perhaps you even throw something – a notepad, your coffee mug, the cat – to punctuate your indignation. Even if you only think about it, the question sets you off. Especially if you think about the fact that you’ve been dwelling on that question instead of writing your blog.
Yet you struggle onward, compelled and impeded by your self-imposed deadline. You try to create the perfect atmosphere for creative flow. Silence proves too distracting, for it amplifies the little noises – the helicopter staccato of the ceiling fan blades, the ticking of the digital clock, the dripping of the faucet, the buzzing of insects, the manic tapping of your impatient finger against side edge of your laptop. So you turn on the stereo to drown out that distracting oppressive “nothing,” but now your favorite songs only remind you that you’re no closer to writing your blog than you were an hour ago and that, yes, so much fun is slipping away. The irony is that fun is now the enemy. Mirth and frivolity are now unthinkable, even gallows humor, for the game has become deadly serious. Not that you can even remember what it was like to laugh and play. Elusive incentive!
Yet the video game system plays a merry little tune, an infectious jingle enticing me to put this off until LATER. Surely LATER I’ll be over this blockage! Surely LATER is the PERFECT time to finish my blog!
Snap out of it, you slacker! You can’t rightly finish later what you haven’t yet begun now. The sooner you get this over with, the better. Shoulders tense, eyes red-rimmed and angry, fingers poised in an angst-filled threat above the keyboard, you try anew to let something F-L-O-W forth.
Now I have a headache, for I have frowned so deeply in concentration that it feels as if my brow has surely met the tip of my nose.
My head hits the keyboard in utter despair. I sigh and dutifully Backspace over the long string of gibberish my forehead has just created. He starts to lose his grip on reality as he realizes that the skull that protects his brain has actually just produced more letters than he’s formed with his brain itself.
Shall I start with a title?
After another hour of forced “creativity” I crap out the singular heading: “Chapter 1.” Coming to my senses, I Backspace, blotting out the idiotic title. I change my mind. A title is progress, no matter how banal. As I re-type my overly obvious and unimaginative heading, I wince. It galls me to no end to realize it’s arguably the best writing I’ve done in roughly 3 or 4 hours. Writer’s block is too mild a phrase for my malady. What I suffer is more akin to writer’s constipation! I need a creative laxative.
Perhaps I’m trying too hard. Yes, that’s it. I need a break. I’ll just walk away from it a bit and return with a fresh perspective.
Half a day passes with no new insights. The deadline is relentless.
Manic brainstorming ensues. What am I writing about? And why? And by what degree am I going to fail? And will I even care?
All-too-aware that my life has ground to a halt, whilst time mercilessly marches on, I make my decision. It has to end. If this lasts much longer, my train is going to pull into the station at Crazy Town. I close my eyes and hope that what comes forth is at least semi-quasi-sorta-coherent to somebody out there – and I’m not even particularly picky about whether they’re actually human at this point! The keyboard seems possessed. At first, I’m sure it’s all gibberish keystrokes, but by some stroke of Divine mercy I’m typing actual words and sentences! Yes, it’s horribly pretentious [but is that my soul I feel slipping back into my body?]. The adjectives are overpoweringly heavy-handed, obvious and presumptuous [But my LIFE resumes!]. The examples are ambiguous, but that’s OK because so is my objective [except a general feeling of impending release]. The writer finds himself constantly between First, Second and Third Persons [but I love music again and the little things no longer drive to distraction]. This blog post is completely lacking in lucidity and serves no obvious purpose [Words have broken free! We’ll sort out meaning later]. In short, this is possibly the worst writing of my entire life, yet I am past caring for I am emancipated! My literary laxative has taken effect! Words tumble forth, filling the screen. Such bliss!
I publish it, feeling not so much pride as relief. As I do so, I recall that digital clocks neither tick nor tock, and that writer’s block always, eventually, ends. On an anticlimactic note even.
Until next time…