“Writer’s block” is awful. As I sit here at a desk in the Kane and listen to the hum of keyboards whizzing around me, I feel ever more inadequate. It’s like being in an exam you didn’t prepare for: you turn over the paper and stare dumbly at the questions, then you look up and everyone around you is writing furiously. That sinking dread, the urge to bang your head off the desk until something happens, it’s overwhelming. I’m currently blaming my inability to come up with an article on the fact that it’s bloody freezing and I can’t type because my fingers are too cold, but that won’t last for long.
Wikipedia kindly refers to it as “a creative slowdown”, but it feels like so much more than that. It’s like I can feel the gears in my brain grinding to a halt, but can’t find the blockage. There is a range of emotions that go along with it; anger, fear, numbness.
Apparently, there are several types of writer’s block. The inability to come up with an idea; having several ideas with none of them panning out (my current predicament), having an idea but having no idea where to start, and being in the middle and having no idea where to go next. The most infuriating one, in my opinion, is the one where you have almost everything wrapped up, but have no idea how to end it; being able to taste freedom, but being not quite there. I like things wrapped up in a nice little package, neat and simple. A conclusion is always my go-to manoeuvre, but sometimes that just isn’t appropriate. Coco Chanel famously said “before leaving the house, look in the mirror and take one accessory off”, but I can’t bear to leave pieces feeling unfinished. They haunt me, like spirits with unfinished business.
There is a huge difference between writers block in creative writing and academic writing, creative writing generally isn’t my kryptonite in that regard. It doesn’t work for everyone, but I just keep writing half paragraphs and chapters on things that pop into my head and eventually something sticks on long enough to become an article; but academic writing? It tears me apart. I spent so long telling myself that I was bad at it that I can’t believe anything else. Presentations and public speaking? Easy! Yet even sitting to write an assignment usually leads anxiety and tears. Not ideal for someone doing their postgrad with no plans to leave college anytime soon. I had an old supervisor effectively tell me that perfectionism is the death of productivity: and she was absolutely right, but it doesn’t change my desperate need for everything to be right, to be just so before submitting.
Hopefully by the time anyone sees this my writers block will be a mere memory, and I’ll be well on the way to academic success. From where I am now, I doubt it, but a girl can dream… besides, there is always another assignment, another deadline, another chance to conquer the demon. I just wish mine wasn’t so damn relevant.
When writing about any sort of difficulty in life, I also have a horrible need to end these rants on a hopeful note. In that vein, I’m going to break out of my self-imposed box. I’m going to forgo a conclusion, and leave it unfinishe-