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  Weekly Feature (August 6, 2006)

Writer's Block



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 this.

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 audience.

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 audience.

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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