There’s a distinct difference between writer’s block and writer’s blah.
Writer’s block is dense. Brick. Concrete. Slab.
Writer’s blah is foggy. Murky. Swampy. Slump.
Writer’s block is hard to miss. It’s the desolation of a blank page. A flashing cursor taunting you. A pen frozen in your hand.
Writer’s blah on the other hand is more deceptive. The words come but they arrive tangled or flat. They crowd your brain pressuring you to create some sort of tasteful order. Or they plod onto the page lumpily like small farting creatures sticking out their tongues.
Either way you feel cheated.
You reminisce about past words which flowed from you organically. You become nostalgic as your mind drifts back to the poem you wrote in the fourth grade – the one that earned you three shiny stickers and the round face with the black smile.
When I come up against both block or blah, I have a tendency to lean into ‘what’s the point?’. It’s a well worn phrase in my repertoire. If I repeat it enough times ‘what’s the point?’ grants me permission to walk away. To stop trying. To stop struggling. To take myself out of the running.
And my god – that feels like sweet relief.
But the feeling is short lived.
Very soon after, I start prodding myself. Sticking insults like old, rusty pins into the tender lining of my soul.
“Idiot – you always give up.”
“You never follow through.”
And so the cycle begins. And the cycle is not only vicious, but cunning. It provides no obvious escape route.
If I write – I’m rubbish. If I don’t write – I’m rubbish times two.
I’d love to come up with some perky quotes to help us all through the block and the blah. But if you’re looking for perky quotes – Write To Be You is not your destination. I could hop onto Instagram or Pinterest and design a motivational banner, declaring in a curly font that GIVING UP IS NOT AN OPTION!
But truthfully – we all know that giving up is an option. We get hurt. Or tired. We lose focus. And that’s normal.
In the midst of Olympic mania, I notice a feeling of inadequacy in the face of extraordinary human beings who push themselves to inhuman limits in order to compete.
Watching a long distance run event this week, I was more captivated by an athlete who strayed off the track halfway through the race than I was by the winners. I felt an urge to find that runner. To give her a hug. To gently wipe her tears and tell her that it’s okay to cry.
Being human involves trying and failing. Giving up and getting up. Banging against blocks and battling the blah.
It involves wavering – finding yourself on the side of the track when just a moment before you were running the race.
So what is the Point?
I can’t say I have any idea… but I do know that writing, even when it’s the last thing in the world I feel like doing, helps me to make some meaning of that eternal unanswerable question.
Are you familiar with asking yourself ‘What’s the point?’ Write about blocks and blah. Write about giving up or getting up or both. Write a response to this post – even if you don’t want to. Notice the resistance and write anyway.