I have to apologize for not getting my weekly feature in
on time. My excuse, albeit a poor one, is that I had a severe case of
writer’s block. In fact, I still have it and my doctor says it could be
terminal. I, however, am a tad more optimistic about my prognosis. In the
meantime, until I find a remedy for this affliction, I want to discuss my
personal experience with writer’s block.
I think it is safe to say we have all dealt with it. Maybe
you will relate to my experience. Maybe you have some advice to offer. Maybe
you will curse at me for wasting your valuable time as you continue to read
For myself, I have gained a better understanding of the
stresses students feel when they are told to write something for their
teacher. We want our writing to be well written, on topic (if one is given),
entertaining to the reader and worthy of being read.
The first strategy I tried when I realized I had nothing
worthwhile to write was to peruse the news. My hope was to find a news item
that piqued my own interest and would appeal to the largest possible
Unfortunately, what I saw was especially controversial,
agonizingly familiar, strangely bizarre, profoundly unimportant or just
plain boring. Despite my own lack of success with this strategy I would
encourage everyone to give it a try when you are at a loss for words.
I did not give up however- I asked my wife to help me find
ideas to write about. Often, another perspective can help cure a bad
blockage. What I learned was that it is often difficult to take advice from
people you love. I am not sure why this is the case, but I will leave these
relationship questions to Oprah Winfrey’s life coach, Dr. Phil.
Brainstorming for ideas was my next desperate attempt. I
surveyed my own interests. I enjoy comic books for their colorful
illustrations and occasionally entertaining narratives, but I believe my
first weekly feature discussed the educational merits of this entertainment
medium. I felt that other aspects of comic books would not appeal to a large
In addition, I would need to take time to do more
research, but I did not have the motivation to do it. My daughter is my
other current interest, but that was the subject of another weekly feature,
and I do not like to repeat myself.
I tried sleeping on it. I thought that if my weekly
feature was the last thing I thought about before I fell asleep and the
first thing I thought about when I awoke I would write a brilliant article.
Also, a good rest can often rejuvenate the mind and allow
the writer to examine difficult concepts. Sadly, in my case, I spent many
sleepless nights worrying about this feature and was no closer to finding a
topic. I was, however, tired and irritable though.
In the end, Brad e-mailed me another friendly reminder. I
decided that I would free write about writer’s block, and this is the
result. It is unedited, probably dull and somewhat unintelligible, but it is
done. I know that you know that free writing is the first step in writing
and not the last one, but I have a deadline to meet.
I welcome any suggestions for my next feature. I empathize
with students when they are told to write on any topic they wish.
Fortunately, in your case, teachers will usually give you a topic to expand
upon. I will leave you with one final thought to ponder: Not everything we
write can be brilliant but it can be grammatically correct.
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