“There’s no such thing as writer’s block,” they say.
“Writing is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration,” they say.
“You have to make the time to write,” they say.
While I’d love to be living in they’s fictional world of Writopia, where time is elastic, the voice recognition is flawlessly accurate, and my responsibilities are mere suggestions, I am stuck here on Earth.
And it ain’t so easy down here in the world populated by reality and stuff.
They think writer’s block is just some abstract excuse for lazy writers to not write.
They are idiots. At best, well-meaning but naive idiots. At worst, insidious two-faced liars setting us up to fail.
Either way, I say they can kiss my posterior.
You’re not convinced, are you? You still see truth in those trite passages they feel compelled to share with us, don’t you?
You probably still put out cookies for Santa, alfalfa for the Easter Bunny, and think jury duty is a worthy civic duty.
Do yourself and your bank account a favor – don’t stockpile the alfalfa any more. It won’t change anything come Easter morning.
Want proof? Fine. I’ll give you proof.
Proof that I’m not just some lazy writer who hasn’t gotten around to writing because of intense personal apathy and a subconscious loathing of words.
Like Prometheus, I bring down to you the fire that is known as writer’s block.
Be warned. If you follow the simple steps I list below, you will get burned.
Oh yes, burned. Burned with the intensity of a thousand diaper rashes. All. Happening. At. Once!
Ian M. Dudley’s Surefire Recipe for Writer’s Block
(serves a family of four, best served with a lot of red wine)
One full-time day job
One or more kids, to taste
Requirement to potty train said kid or kids
One spouse or significant other
One house (or rental property) requiring constant upkeep
Optional: one or more medical conditions that impact free time or writing ability (tendonitis, extensive pending dental work, severe diaper rash, etc.)
Get up early to do some writing. Dress first, so you can get the maximum amount of writing before bolting out the door. Get interrupted by kiddo(s) waking now, demanding hugs and soaked in their own (you hope) urine. Put kiddo(s) on potty, find kiddo(s) clean clothes, make toast or something to stop incessant whining of kiddo(s) about being hungry.
Notice when kiddo(s) hugged you, your clothes also became soaked in (hopefully their) urine. Change into new outfit, noting that you just put on the last non-urine soaked shirt / pants / dress / sweats / whatever you own. Realize that dealing with kiddo(s) and clothes change has put you behind schedule. Skip breakfast to get to full-time day job only marginally late.
Skip lunch in order to write. Psych! Lunchtime meeting called because that was the only hour everyone still had available on their calendars. Due to lack of breakfast, expend ludicrous amount of energy in not being snarky towards superior who called meeting. Eat crappy lunch that is served. Act nonchalant when some attendees ask if anyone else can smell urine.
If you have special dietary needs (e.g., vegetarian), quiver in rage at discovery that food offered is not compatible with your requirements.
If you have a nut allergy, seriously consider eating one of the PB&J sandwiches offered, just to end the misery.
Spend next hour dealing with stomach upset / constipation / food poisoning / allergic reaction that arises as a result of consuming sub-par lunch that was served.
Leave full-time day job early just this once. Yeah, right! Stay until daily 5pm meeting finally wraps up. Spend next hour and a half in traffic. Two blocks from home, glare at cause of traffic bottleneck: Critical Mass protest rally in middle of intersection. Then hit every remaining red light (there will be at least three in those final two blocks, including one construction site where traffic is slowed so they can install a traffic light).
Throw open front door of home and recharge soul in the gleeful hugs and greetings provided by spouse / significant other and kiddo(s). Just kidding! Spouse / significant other, having spent entire day with kiddo(s), has a not-even-remotely-concealed homicidal glint in eyes. Kiddo(s) greeting entails making you scream in pain (running full tilt into the family jewels is one example that comes to mind…from personal experience).
Fervently hope kiddo(s)-caused injury leaves you sterile.
Enter house and head straight for den / mancave / study to get some writing in before dinner. Oh, wait. There’s a mini lake in the kitchen, the result of the dishwasher exploding. Slip in said water, land on buttocks. Pass out from pain, allowing cold soapy water to soak into your (last set of clean) clothes. Come to, calm down spouse / significant other worried about your loss of consciousness, clean up mess. Then stare at disassembled dishwasher for ten minutes before ordering a new one online.
Check bank balance to see if you can afford new appliance. Take slow, deep breaths and an aspirin to try to quell the chest pains this triggers.
This also serves to remind you why you haven’t quit your day job.
Help spouse / significant other feed the kiddo(s). Endure tirade of “This is not my favorite / not what I want / yucky!” that follows. Scold, beg, cajole, and bribe kiddo(s) to eat at least one bite, and when this is accomplished deceive yourself into thinking it is a victory.
It is not a victory.
Eat your dinner – the cold, congealed remnants of the meal kiddo(s) refused to eat. Experience surge of dissatisfaction about said meal in addition to a complete lack of feeling full. Open and eat an entire bag of potato chips to compensate, then perceive yourself as fat and bloated for the rest of the evening. This is mitigated slightly by fact of kiddo(s) periodically snatching a chip out of your hands.
hide write in den / mancave / study, but spouse / significant other’s howls of anguish at dealing with kiddo(s) for even one minute more force you to return. Endure/contain kiddo(s) while spouse / significant other hides in den / mancave / study not writing.
(Oh the irony.)
For each kiddo in the household, there will be at least three potty accidents, with a minimum of one involving solid waste that is only solid when using a very loose definition of the word. Hold back tears / vomit as you work through these trials.
At bedtime, put kiddo(s) to bed. Read favorite story to kiddo(s). When requested, stop and repeat favorite passages. Ad nauseum. When done, ignore pleas to not leave kiddo(s) alone in the dark.
Go to den / mancave / study to write. Ha! As if! Return to room of kiddo(s) every two minutes due to ear-piercing, soul-shaking screams. Soothe kiddo(s), explaining that the curtains aren’t ghosts / carpet is not trying to eat kiddo(s) / you do not have time to read another story / you cannot go to sleep in room with kiddo(s). Start making up vigilante characters, such as the Spank Fairy, who slips into rooms after dark to spank noisy children.
Be prepared to die a little inside when this ploy triggers laughter instead of silence.
After eighth trip to room of kiddo(s), lock door from the outside and put in earplugs. Go to den / mancave / study to write. Curses! Foiled again! Spouse / significant other now demands quality time. Pour entire focus of your being into spouse / significant other.
After marriage / relationship is on less shaky ground and spouse / significant other’s sanity marginally restored, go to den / mancave / study to write. Not! It’s after 11pm, you’re exhausted, and you need to get up early to write tomorrow morning. Go to bed.
Grind teeth in fury when spouse / significant other immediately falls asleep, leaving you to struggle to nod off in the wake of your partner’s ferocious snoring. Finally drift off shortly before 2am.
Awaken at 2am to screams of kiddo(s). Rush into room to find kiddo(s), PJs, bedding, and carpet soaked in (hopefully just) urine. Turn to tell spouse / significant other it’s their turn, but stop short when you see the cold dead glint in their eyes.
It doesn’t matter what the tally indicates – it is your turn.
When finished, crawl into bed and just before drifting off, realize you forgot to start a load of laundry. You’d cry as you load the washing machine, but you have neither the energy nor the hydration to pull it off at this point.
On your way back to bed and the sweet, sweet embrace of slumber, you step on a toy.
A sharp, pointy toy.
The pain is nothing compared to the agony of discovering you are completely out of wine.
Repeat every day, except weekends when kiddo(s) cling to you every waking moment while exhibiting a pathological need to pound on anything they think even vaguely resembles a keyboard. You think I’m exaggerating, but I have been interrupted eleven times in the last ten minutes by my children, asking for irritating things like food, drink, and love.
It’s almost as if I’m cursed.
If anyone out there still naively thinks they have a suggestion for how to cure this writer’s block (that does not involve me ending up in jail / death row), feel free to chime in. Keep in mind that with the cost of replacing a major appliance every night, I cannot afford a nanny, and for some reason the Missus has explicitly forbade me bringing in a young, voluptuous live-in au pair.
I bet the kiddos would love an au pair.