We’ve all been there; the moment where you stare at your computer screen, and continue to do so for the following three hours. During this time, words begin to lose all meaning and instead become small squiggles that no longer signify very much in relation to the English language. Your brain begins to explore the possibility of having yet another cup of tea, and what to have for dinner, what time you ought to shower, etc. But nevertheless, sitting staring at the computer screen, working at approximately three lines an hour, is what could be considered the journey of a thousand miles. What is worse is the apathy that follows, leading to procrastination, and watching endless amounts of TV, just while you “think about what to work on next”. This is the affliction that has cursed me this morning; an attempt to write an essay, ending in me staring at the screen, rearranging sentences, but writing hardly anything that could be considered coherent.
So, how to tackle the problem? Well, I’m not quite sure. But I’m going to start by switching off the essay screen, and reverting to the plan. And when I’ve finally found a new direction for my essay (hopefully at some time this evening), I will post-it note all the relevant pages, and start writing again. But for now, until that happy moment arrives, I’m going to attempt study group questions; at the very least, they provide prompts. The hardest part of university, without a doubt, is the idea that you are very rarely given a detailed description of what you must do; it tends to be your own ideas, and running on your own steam. Most of the time, this is a freedom that I adore, however sometimes, I get a classic case of writer’s block. The worst part of writer’s block is writer’s block just when you have a deadline to contend with. A deadline in a week, in fact. And I am as close to finishing this essay (or working out where I’m going to go with it) as I am to working out the molecular structure of hydrogen without the assistance of Google. So, after my lecture, I shall make an extremely black coffee, and re-evaluate the plan and hopefully it will clear itself up. I’m sure I’ll unblock myself soon enough.
The problem is at its worst when I want to sit down to write pretty metaphors and lyrics, but I can think of nothing new and original to say. Not a new word or thought in my mind. And then I get frustrated, and feel worthless in my capacity as a writer, which is precisely how I feel now. Sometimes, I wonder why I decided I wanted to be a writer in the first place, and why couldn’t I have considered something that relies a little less on my own creative capacity, and focussed on something with a little more scientific basis; something where there is a solidly correct answer. And when I think about this, I tend to go back, and read through my blog, and have a flick through my favourite novels, and all my writing to date, and I remember, in the style of a true romantic, that I will always love to write, and it’ll always be for love as opposed to any logical factor.
This is what leads me to believe that my writer’s block will clear in a day or two; if I allow it to percolate, then something will happen. I’ll come back to it later, greet it like an old friend, and find a new way of thinking about it, as opposed to having to force through it. In the mean time, I’ll bumble through my study questions, finish off Mansfield Park and read my way through my anthology. Interspersed with tea breaks, and watching “The Simpsons”.