Sumptin’ to say?

Posted in Life in general, On writing at 9:47 am by Marion

Again a Monday, and there are lots of assignments on tap for the week. After completing a draft of a lengthy, complex magazine article, I’ve found myself … well … at a loss for words.

You’ve probably heard the term “writers block.” It’s something romantic types like to use to describe the so-called angst and suffering they feel when penning their thoughts.

The term “writers block” doesn’t exist in my world. Think about it: Writing is never easy. You just sit in the chair until you finish. To moan doesn’t help. What’s more, if for one minute I thought I could be somehow “blocked” and unable to write, it would be like a carpenter losing a thumb. You can’t work like that.

Writers block, then, is a cop-out, an excuse. Still, there are times when I simply have nothing to say. The past few days have felt like that — after wrapping up such a long piece, my mind is empty, but not in that good Buddhist way. It’s empty like a pot that’s drained. No more soup to stir.

Sitting down today and counting up the assignments, deadlines and calls to make, I feel apathetic about all of them. It seems overwhelming to try to bring meaning and significance to these topics — and yet, that is the very thing I must do.

One of the hardest jobs in a newsroom is writing editorials. If you don’t believe it, just try one day, sitting down and writing with great passion about a 1/2-cent sales tax or government-bond issue. Editorials are tough because you have to persuade a reader … you have to write with energy and conviction. Yet, they’re usually short — a few hundred words — so once you muster the passion, you only have to maintain it a little longer.

As anyone who writes for a living will tell you, our job means mustering that conviction and energy for every job, for every article, every day. If you don’t care about your subject, the reader won’t, either.

On days like today, I have to remind myself I have the greatest job on the planet — that I am a lucky dog to be able to make a living without a tool or skill … and using only my mind.

Under these circumstances, how ungrateful it is to complain of something like “writers block” — it’s just like any other job, sometimes you feel a little tired, but you get started and remember that it’s what you do, who you are, and it’s like coming home.

1 Comment

  1. Gene-o said,

    August 18, 2008 at 11:52 am

    “If you don’t care about your subject, the reader won’t, either.”

    This is so true! It’s like doing radio: The listener can tell if you’re smiling.