General, How-to, Student Life

Blocked: vanquishing the enemy

an image of a document spreadsheet that is empty with the microsoft word toolbar along the top and the blue border of the window title at the very top of the image

*shudder*

There’s something deeply unnerving about staring at an empty Word document. Something off-putting about watching the cursor blink impatiently against the white, empty screen. The blink of the cursor is like my waiting mother’s irritated toe-tap. The toe-tap that let me know that any longer and I would soon be left behind. Tap. Tap. Tap.

I have to overcome this writer’s block.

I’ve mentioned in past posts that a student’s life can essentially be summed up in two actions: reading and writing. When we aren’t writing, we are reading, and when we aren’t reading, we are writing. This, to me, is the core of what makes a student, the core of what this life consists of. So, what happens when a student hits writer’s block?

From my experience (read: current experience) what happens is panic. It’s been mostly a silent panic, but panic nonetheless. I can’t even count how many times I’ve begun writing this post, read what I wrote, was unsatisfied with the first sentence, deleted what I typed and started the whole cycle all over again. To have gotten to this paragraph–to this sentence–to this word has been an upward battle, like riding a fixie up a really steep hill. It’s been exhausting, mentally and emotionally.

a photo of blogger Jasper wearing a grey sweater resting his head face down on his arm sitting behind a keyboard

*le sigh*

I’ve had this writer’s block for almost a week now, and knowing that it cannot be permitted to remain, I have sought advice from almost everybody in my support network. The advice that repeatedly comes back to me is: just start writing and don’t stop. Now, if you’ve ever had writer’s block, you’ll understand that this is actually really hard to do. I’ve experienced days of starting and deleting and starting and deleting for me to even get to the point where I conceded to defeat and admitted that this method wasn’t working for me at the moment.

It wasn’t initially helpful because the main reason for my block didn’t lie in my inability to continue writing after the first sentence; the problem was that I couldn’t find the first sentence to begin with. So why couldn’t I find the first sentence? A quick trip down the google rabbit hole revealed why the first sentence was so elusive, because of anxiety.

Thinking about now, it all makes sense. The root of my block was that I was feeling anxious about the topic that I was going to originally write about. I was anxious because I wanted to make sure I did the topic justice, and my confidence in doing so was really fairly low. The anxiety of the topic, along with recovering from a bad flu piled up into a formidable writers block, one which I hope I have vanquished (at least for the time being). With this realization, I decided to focus on a different topic, a topic about overcoming writer’s block, and in doing so I found my first sentence and haven’t stopped writing.

a photo of a black computer keyboard on a yellowish wooden table

*tap tap tap*

It being fairly early in the second semester, many people may not be thinking about upcoming academic papers yet. But I’m sure there are a few of you out there who already have papers or writing assignments due. In fact, there may even be a few of you who feel the pressure of writer’s block right now. It isn’t a very pleasant feeling, and its one that I’m sure you’ll want to overcome as soon as possible. Academic papers are a beast all on their own, so switching topics may not be a viable option, however the Writing Centre provides some great tips on overcoming writer’s block.

If you’ve ever had writer’s block, how have you gotten over it? Leave a comment below and let me know, I may need more tips sooner than later!