Even if you hate writing, you know what writer’s block is. A blank document, a blinking cursor, a deadline inching ever closer with the tick of a digital clock in the corner of your screen. It sucks. Or, arguably worse, when the words stop coming halfway through. An idea comes to a screeching halt, the thought process frozen at a point in time when you thought you knew where you were going; the narrow road branches out into an intersection with an infinite number of directions–and, with literally every possibility in the world right in front of you, you find yourself stuck.
For me, it’s the feeling when you’re just about to sneeze–and you don’t. You sit there, blinking a few times, maybe pulling a face or two, irrationally frustrated at the world. There’s all of this creative energy, this desire to be productive and motivated and accomplished, just being wasted on indecision. You know (generally) what you want to say, you’re just not quite sure how to get there. So you get up, grab yourself a can of your favorite LaCroix and a handful of Chex Mix, and sit there staring at your screen, waiting for inspiration to hit.
I can speak from experience when I say that this is the least helpful course of action, one that all too often results in a missed deadline (and a rather expensive LaCroix habit). But if inspiration doesn’t magically hit you mid-thought, what are you to do?
Just write something. Get the words flowing again. They don’t have to be “good words”, per say, but you’ve got to get something done, have something to work with. More often than not I end up writing about how frustrating writer’s block is (how do you think this piece came to be?). The way I see it, you’re getting all of the crappy ideas and awkward sentences and weird analogies out of the way, and eventually you’ll get back into your groove. Writer’s block often occurs when you put too much weight into what you have to say, place the entirety of the meaning and value of your paper on the way the next few sentences turn out. The pressure to write something earth-shattering makes you freeze up, the words st–
You get the point.
Although teenagers have a bad reputation for being “impulsive” and making so-called “rash” decisions, I think more often than not we swing to the other end of the spectrum. With a (relative) lack of life experience and a wealth of opportunities at our disposal, at times it feels like the entirety of our future rests on the next calculus test, or the writing workshop due on Tuesday. The pressure bottles up, building until the fear of a misstep or a B- prevents us from moving at all. If that kind of mentality is applied to every aspect of our life, it tends to complicate things–for example: if the next sentence isn’t perfect, what’s the point in writing at all?
When I put it like that, then yes, it sounds trivial, and obvious. The glaring simplicity of it acts as a perspective check of sorts. With that new frame of reference, I can turn back to the blank document, blinking cursor and all, except instead of insurmountable it now feels irrelevant. The immeasurable amount of creative possibilities is freeing instead of paralyzing, allowing room for trial and error that for some reason wasn’t apparent before. Indecision is flexible, and temporary, and wholly manageable (and under my control). Odds are the next sentence isn’t perfect. Maybe it’s not even close. But that’s okay, because you don’t need to create a perfect sentence on the first try. You just need to write something–and by the time you’re finished with that, you’re one “something” closer to being done.