The Interminable Swamp of Writer’s Block


I was sitting on the shuttle bus this morning, and I don’t even know why, but this thought was bouncing around my head:

I should totally write another blog post.

Once the initial peppy “frick yeah, I’m going to do this thing!” reaction had passed, though, I had a problem.

What on earth do I write about?

So I started racking my brains for inspiration. I stared out the window at the spindly little trees the bus passed, at the abandoned parking lot by OCCE, and even at the gauges the guy sitting across from me was wearing. Heck, I thought, I’m sure I have a blog post in me about how much vicarious pain I feel upon seeing gauges. (What the hey, I’m not premed anymore. I’m allowed to be squeamish.)

But nothing came. No neurons sparked. No blog post started magically forming in my mind.

I was stuck. The best topic I could think of on that entire bus ride was our bus driver, who plays R&B stations and jams out to them all the time. His radio played “I Want You Back,” and I’m so used to this mashup that hearing the normal version threw me off hardcore. That’s ridiculous, I chided myself as I got off the bus. Literally no one is going to think your obsession with mashups is in any way cool or hilarious. That I knew for sure: anything I wrote would have to be funny. Preferably hysterical.  (No pressure, right?)

And then, while walking to my 9:00 economics class, I started writing this.

What people almost never tell you about writing is that you will feel thoroughly uninspired probably 80 to 95 percent of the time. Maybe, if it’s a good day, your Writer’s Apathy Indicator Level is at a stunningly low 70 percent. You’ll feel like you barely have enough wherewithal to get through your day, or enough enthusiasm to not appear Scroogearific during normal social interactions, or enough presence of mind to smile a bit so you don’t drive people off with your BRF. Being articulate in writing will seem like running a marathon. Being funny will seem completely out of the question.

But you have to keep writing.

What, the only thing you can think to write is a rambling manifesto about how much OU parking sucks? A conversation between two forgettable secondary characters about their mutual love of Pink Floyd? Three double-spaced pages of uninterrupted cursing in Klingon? Awesome! You’re still writing.

The thing is, writing anything has a way of keeping your brain oiled, of helping the cogs run smoothly. Sometimes all you have to do is write the first hundred words or something, even if it feels like the most arduous thing ever, because the next hundred words will be that much easier as a result. You can’t just wait around for inspiration to strike. You have to strike out on your own.

I mean, look at what I just did. I started out with no earthly idea what I wanted to write about, and now I have a perfectly serviceable blog post – all because I muddled through.

That’s really what writing is, when push comes to shove: a constant state of muddling through.


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