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Sunday, November 25, 2012

Ruminations on Writer's Block

DOS chastised me today for a recent spate of "non-posts": those days when it's all I can do to muster the will to post a "Sorry" or a link to a video of kittens playing with ducklings. His advice: If I have nothing to write about, just don't write.  Let a day go by.  See if anyone notices.  And, if anyone DOES complain, plead ignorant indignation: "What do you mean, no post?  I certainly wrote something.  If my post didn't show up on your internet, take it up with your service provider!  And, no, I will NOT supply a back issue!"

Believe me, I've considered it.  What stops me, frankly, is fear.  Inertia beckons.  Succumb to laziness once, what's to stop one from succumbing again?  Harper Lee took a day off after finishing To Kill a Mockingbird; now, fifty-plus years later, we're still waiting for Mockingbird's Revenge!

I don't call what I've "got" writer's block: I've always thought that a somewhat precious notion.  Self-indulgent writers trying to dignify laziness with pseudo-psychological diagnoses.  I always tell my students--and I stand by this--that, if they have nothing to write about, then they're not paying attention.  There are any number of potential topics: One need only pick a newspaper or magazine article at random and riff for a couple of hundred words.  If someone said, "Hey, Solipsist, give me 500 words on '[INSERT TOPIC HERE],'" I know I could fulfill the order.  (Quantity, not quality, guaranteed.)

The problem is more writer's apathy.  I don't care enough about any topic to expend energy on it, a feeling compounded by a sense that I have nothing new to add.  What insight do I have to offer on the latest turmoil in the Middle East or Notre Dame's chances in the BCS Championship?  Gloating over Republican misery, while enjoyable, gets old, too.

These things are cyclical.  Tomorrow or the next day--or a week and a half from now--I will see something in the paper or experience something at work that will stir my creative juices.  Just as I go through extended dry periods, I also experience weeks where virtually everything provides a trove of blogworthy material.  But if I don't force myself to plow through the fallow periods, I won't be ready to go when the floodgates open.

So, DOS, take the good with the bad with the pointless.  Even a Hall-of-Famer gets a base hit only about thirty percent of the time.  That doesn't stop him from taking every at bat.

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