So I spent an hour or so on today’s blog on the topic of the “subjectiveness of humor” and ended up just deleting the whole thing. Part of the reason is that, while this is something of an op/ed feature, I don’t want to get too preachy from my soap box. And on the other, I just wasn’t getting my points across. So instead of just skipping the feature this week, join me in moment of introspection: when a writer no word-make gud.
“Writer’s block” is a real thing. Do not let anyone tell you otherwise. There has been endless discussion over how real it is, how to prevent or work around it, or if it’s self-fulfilling detrimental thinking. Speaking from personal experience, it can be a very physical thing. I can feel the grey matter not working.
On a good day, when I’m very productive, there is a satisfying clarity of mind when I’m through. Imagine an empty attic room, finished but unfurnished, with sunlight beaming through the sole window. That’s a good feeling.
But on days like today, it’s more like I’m wandering through a hall of mirrors. I know there is a goal and I can see a direction, but each step forward is halting and unsure. The points I want to make are right in front of me, but they’re distorted, improperly formed, or misleading. I think I’m getting to something profound, or at least coherent, and – bonk! – nope, that doesn’t make sense. That could’ve been stated more clearly. I already said that, or I repeated myself, or became redundant. That joke was lame.
The worst days are when there’s nothing. As frustrating as being unable to get the point across can be, it’s miserable when there’s no point to get to at all. If you’ve ever experienced sleep paralysis, or had the misfortune to have a limb fully encased in a cast, you’ve got a general idea of what it feels like. It’s a rare occasion, but there are days when there are simply no thoughts to be thunk. It’s not like being in a fog or having the word at the tip of your tongue; it is a total inability to think creatively.
Remember that clean, empty room? Now imagine trying to push something heavy around, but there’s nothing to push. You can’t even pantomime it to get the satisfaction of tensing a muscle – it’s just air.
I hope this was illuminating for somebody out there, because right now I’m still stumbling through my hall of mirrors. I feel like I’m nearing the exit, but on days like today, it might just be another – bonk!