Friday, December 9, 2011

Writer’s block: a new understanding

I always used to scoff when someone said they had writer’s block. “How can you have nothing to write about?” I would say. “I could write five pages about the crack in the sidewalk we’re standing on now.”

Today I’m older and wiser and a bit less peppy. I’m no longer sure that writing five pages about any sort of crack is such a good thing after all. And I’m also no longer critical of people suffering from writer’s block. I now know that writer’s block is real. I’m not too proud to tell you that this very week I’ve suffered from writer’s block, as well as a stuffed-up nose and PMS. And I now understand that it’s not always a question of finding the right subject matter, but about finding a way to write about it.

Writer’s block is sometimes just not being able to find a pen.

Writer’s block is writing the most inspired work of art in your head at eleven thirty at night while lying in bed in the dark, and falling asleep immediately afterwards.

Writer’s block is having an urgent proofreading deadline and twenty-eight essay exams to mark for other people.

Writer’s block is being struck by a fantastic turn of phrase that you absolutely must jot down, before getting struck by the end of a broom that your little boy is wielding while screaming “Dinosaur, you gonna die!”

Writer’s block is sneezing so many times in a row that you can’t sit upright, let alone type.

Writer’s block is getting frustrated to distraction by the fact that a rice cake crumb has jammed the ‘u’ button of your keyboard, despite the fact that the ‘u’ is clearly the least useful (and least beautiful) of all the vowels.

Writer’s block is having a word limit before you start writing.

Writer’s block is having your brilliant sentence typed only halfway before it’s cut short by the fifth daily request to watch the “How Chocolate is Made” clip on Youtube.

Writer’s block is having a flea infestation.

Writer’s block is trying to write while lightly browning the garlic and cooking the steak medium rare.

Writer’s block is no longer being able to keep your eyes open despite having had a cup of black tea and five pieces of dark chocolate.

And with that, this writer, now happily unblocked in more ways than one, bids you goodnight.


  1. As always, love reading your posts! I know what you mean about scoffing at writer's block...and then, later, understanding it a bit better! And I could so relate to some of your blocks!! I'm so glad that you're "unblocked" now!!!

  2. Dear Gretchen, yes I do find that with age I am less and less interested in criticizing in general! To the great relief, I'm sure, of those around me. Sending you lots of writing inspiration...and if I could, I'd also send you the most important ingredient for writing: TIME!