Writer’s Block

Here’s my latest column from from Pee #37. It went to the printers on Monday, so it should be out now. This issue comes with a 26 band compilation CD, so enjoy…

Writer’s block is kind of like being constipated. There’s always a deadline (whether it’s your looming submission date or the fact that your colon will eventually explode), and there’s a feeling of internal pressure that increases the closer you get to the deadline. It’s not much fun to go through, but at least when you’re writing, you know that you will either produce a work of genius or a steaming turd, whereas if you’re constipated, you’re really only guaranteed one of those options.

If an actor wants to show writer’s block, he will bang out a sentence on his typewriter, and scowl at the paper for several seconds before scrunching it into a ball and throwing it into a growing pile surrounding the bin on the other side of the room. Film makers should get with the program – the last typewriter I saw was on Sesame Street. Real writer’s block is all about checking your email every 5 minutes, getting up to make your fourth cup of coffee, and opening your web browser to do research, but finding yourself an hour later reading about the Flying Spaghetti Monster, or Chuck Norris facts, or filling out a survey to find your pirate name (Peg-dick Stu the Syphilitic Sea Dog).

Writer’s block is realizing that you’ve been writing for an hour and you’ve still only got two paragraphs. It’s staying up all night and watching your word count climb slower than an arthritic tree sloth. It’s when you start to consider whether anyone will notice that you have used a larger font and double-spaced all your lines. It’s when you start thinking about the old Chinese proverb about a picture being worth a thousand words, and consider whether including a picture or two will be accepted instead of text.

Something that is closely related to writer’s block is…procrasturbation. A cute girl introduced me to this word, and even though I had a fair idea what she was talking about (no, scratch that, because I knew exactly what she was talking about), I asked for an explanation. “Well, you know, it’s late at night and you’re working on something that is due the following day; and your brain doesn’t really want to work on it, so you begin to get…horny.” I told her that I had no idea what she was talking about, but that she should continue and not hesitate to go into graphic detail. “Well, and you have to…kind of…take matters into your own hands.” On the theory that admitting to being a compulsive masturbator is not high on the list of thing that impress girls, I told her that I was a little confused, but still offered to come around and help her write her next essay.

People have suggested different cures for writers block to me. So far all of them have been useless. One suggestion was to ring up a friend and talk to them about what you are writing as if it was the most exciting thing in the world. For me this just turned into another way to avoid writing because I started talking about the procraturbation girl and how she almost definitely a sure thing…as long as I didn’t tell her my pirate name.

The cure for writer’s block that is usually mentioned is just to do some free-flow writing; don’t think about it, just let your deepest subconscious thoughts spill out onto the page. This it the crappiest idea ever! It might work for other people, but when I tried this, I just ended up with pages of writing that were both pornographic and unpublishable. I couldn’t use any of it (except maybe the bit about the cross-dressing midget).

The best cure for writer’s block is a deadline. When the deadline is really close, it unblocks you faster than an industrial strength laxative. Ideas just seem to flow from your pen, as you turn the faintest whiff of an idea into a solid chunk of reality. You sweated and strained to create this; and when you’re finished, you feel kind of proud looking at it on paper. You want to show your friends.

If they run away holding their noses, then you know that you haven’t produced a work of genius.

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