to a blocked writer

Hey kid. How ya doin.

You don't have to be strong with me. You're waiting for the magic, right?

Waiting for the moment that you realize, hey, I'm not a fraud, this is gonna work out!

How long you been waiting?

Ouch. Really?

Have you peed since then? Shit, cap'n, you need to get yourself a glass of water or you're gonna pee bouillon cubes.

Nothing much happening in the ole noggin, huh?

Every tick of the clock feels like a second closer to death, huh? And because you can't write for shit right now, that's one second closer to a silent fucking death. Or worse, a death by comma splice.

Other people are writing pieces that you feel certain you could have thought of, if only you'd been thinking, goddamn it!

Listen. I get it. I get it. I'm right there with you. We've got what some people call writer's block.

I hate the term "writer's block," by the way. (Now would be the perfect time to explain why I hate the term "writer's block" and perhaps suggest a razor-sharp and hilarious alternative that reveals a deeper truth about the nature of writer's block. Any second now. It's coming. Here it comes. It'll get here. Just wait. Not too long though. If you wait too long you start thinking about how long it's taking to get here and then you're not thinking about the thing and where it is and what could be taking it so long and perhaps it's Godot and it's never really fucking coming and before you know it you've drowned the seed of a funny insight in enough words to fill a goddamn bathtub. Oh, hello.)

Anyway, here are some things I do when I'm freaking out about writing badly.

1. Sometimes when I can't write it's because there's only one thing on my mind and I've decided I don't want to write about that thing. 

And then when I sit down to write the voice in my head is like, "Don't write about your childhood. Don't write about your childhood. Write about cookies instead." But I don't have anything to write about cookies, so I sit there with my fingers on the keys not-writing about my childhood, not-sculpting an essay, and not-feeling a sense of accomplishment.

Go ahead. Give yourself permission to write about the thing you don't want to write about. Write about why you don't want to write about it. Why the fuck do you think I'm writing a post about not being able to write? 

It might never see the outside of your word processor, but if you have your own blog you can always post it there and then MILLIONS OF PEOPLE WILL READ IT! Hahaha jk, like 40 people will read this. And that's okay, because it got outside my head. Maybe now there'll be room for something else in there.

2. Sometimes when I can't write it's because I'm thinking about too much. Don't think too much. Thinking is a real bummer and often produces terrible writing. I genuinely believe in the "no backspace" rule when you're starting on a new project. Let your brain play.

What other people think about the shit you write in a first draft is none of your fucking business anyway. Just start.

3. Sometimes when I can't write it's because I need to hear some other voices. There is no writer in the universe good enough to write interesting shit all the time without also hearing, reading, and experiencing interesting shit. Nobody's imagination is (now would be a great time to use a word that means something like bottomless but isn't quite so cliche. Wait for it. Here it comes. It'll get here...)

I call a good friend who always cracks me up. I read a good book or article.

Side note, I've found that Twitter is NOT HELPFUL even if you follow funny, talented people on Twitter because so much of writing is about context. The one-liner genius of Twitter masters is a sight to behold, but when I'm struggling, especially struggling to be funny, I don't feel inspired by Tweets, only jealous of them. #NotUseful.

4. Sometimes when I can't write it's because my brain is on fire. Yep, I've got a touch of the mania. I call myself manic-light, Diet Manic, or Manic Tinge, which would be a good band name but also sounds like a weird Cockney name for a vagina. Doesn't it?

Sometimes things are humming along great and I'm staying up late but there's always coffee in the morning. I'm most energized when my day is full so I fill my days. It seems silly to not fill them, and then not be energized. I've got shit to do.

Sometimes I hit a snag and my brain catches on fire. A snag could be too many nights in a row with shitty sleep, one too many projects, a sickness, a mean-spirited but not inaccurate comment about the blog (I don't go on Reddit anymore), or really any major change in the schedule.

It feels like a wire lost its insulation and my head fills up with smoke. I get irritable and easily annoyed with small things that usually, ok, yes, still annoy me but I have the wherewithal to be kind in the moment and talk shit to my husband (or sister, if my husband is the one bugging me) later.

When I sit down to write all I can think about is the 19 other things I didn't get done. My brain is on fire and full of smoke and all I can do is grab for things I can't really see but think I might need.

When my brain is on fire I need to take the night off and put out the fire. Sometimes the fire extinguisher looks like an intricate to-do list, or a filled-out weekly schedule, because planning helps me stay oriented. Sometimes the extinguisher is a movie, a glass of scotch, and a piece of cake, because mama needed a break.

There are lot of other reasons I can't write sometimes. These might be the reasons I can't write tonight, or they might not.

This post is terrible but it was really important to write. I apologize because while it was important to write it was not necessarily important to publish.

Per my satisfaction guarantee, you may submit in writing a request for the last 4 minutes of your life back, please include self-addressed stamped envelope. Expect a reply in 90 days.



PS, usually I put a link to my Patreon, social media links, etc. beneath my posts but I'm not going to do that tonight because let's be real: "If you found this post valuable, please consider supporting me through Patreon..." I AM THE ONLY PERSON ON EARTH WHO FINDS THIS POST VALUABLE. THIS IS BASICALLY A FREE THERAPY POST.

PPS - Thanks to Sam Seaborn for the gif cameo at the top. #SamSeabornForPresident #OfMyPants


  1. You're not the only one who found this post valuable. Hugs.

  2. Nah this was cool. We all get stuck. I’ve been thinking about how I want to write but I never feel like my voice is important.