On Writer’s Block

“I have writer’s block.”

I’ve said this to myself, to my teachers, and to my friends many times. Mostly, it comes in response to questions about whether or not I’ve been writing lately, why I haven’t started an assignment, why I seem so fuzzy. Lately I’m beginning to think that that famous, yet vague condition is nothing but an excuse.

Even if I don’t believe in its legitimacy, I can admit that writer’s block feels like something. To me, it’s always felt like a massive white fog in my head. I stare down a blank page or document and that whiteness reflects back at me. I get distracted by the music I have playing, the bird pecking at the ground outside my window. I refocus, I check my phone, I type a few words only to delete them, and ultimately I give up and promise to try again later.

For years, five to be exact, I kept lengthy and detailed diaries. Though they began in the standard, entry-by-entry format, my writing grew with me and my diaries became something closer to a non-fiction essay, or an autobiography, or narrative story. Throughout the course of these five years I amassed over 400,000 words and 600 pages. Though I can hardly share this writing with the world I would say that I’m most proud of it than anything else I’ve done in my 20 years. Knowing that when I’m old enough that my memory starts to fade that I’ll have these diaries to remind me of the most youthful times of my life is comforting. I can watch myself grow as a person and a writer, relive the best and worst moments of my teenage life by stepping into a text time machine. Yes, I’m proud of it all.

Sometimes though, writing these diaries felt like a battle. I’d have to force myself to write about something before I forgot it, re-read sections over and over again in the editing process, and most often of all, push myself through that fog. I began to notice a pattern in when my writer’s block would appear:

  1. When I just plain didn’t feel like writing.
  2. When what I had to write about was uninteresting or painful (ex. Writing about traumatic party experiences – will elaborate one day).
  3. When I really wanted to write about something, but had to write about something else first.
  4. When I had a lot to write.

Makes sense.

But, instead of admitting to any of those I’d just say I had writer’s block and put down my pen or close my laptop and try again later when the task didn’t seem so daunting.

My pace slowed. After I graduated high school, it took more and more for me to open up those documents to do anything other than reread what I had already wrote and search for where I had went wrong. My life and emotional state wasn’t at its finest then but I always figured being in a turbulent state would only drive me to write more. But I hardly wanted to write about recent events like I’d done routinely for 4 years, let alone pick up one of my poetry or songwriting books.

Writing began to feel like a chore and that was how I knew something was wrong. My writing bone was broken and I had to figure out how to fix it soon because I left for university in the fall of 2016 and I would be studying Journalism.

Perhaps it all came down to what I was writing about. See, diaries are personal, and mine were more detailed than most. I’d often feel exhausted after writing a few thousand words, drained by trying to find a way to translate what I felt into something that others would understand.

But even as school began and I listened to my professors talk enthusiastically about the impact we could have on the world with our words I didn’t feel inspired. I loved to write and I knew I was good at it but I wondered why I didn’t feel as passionate about it as all of my wide-eyed peers seemed to be.

I guess I’m still trying to find the answer to that question.

“Writer’s block.”

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