Death, Taxes, and Writer’s Block

Written by Mary Jean Howard

I humbly disagree with Ben Franklin’s list of life’s certainties. Sure taxes will always be around to harsh my mellow, but there are a few things my second favorite Ben missed out on. Specifically, I’ve got three certainties to add to his list:

  1. That time I got bangs three years ago was A Very Bad Idea
  2. Hollywood can’t last a lunar cycle without making a spider man reboot
  3. As long as there’s writers, there will be writer’s block

I’m going to skip talking about the first two points on my list (because the former is mortifying and the latter is another post for another day) and I’ll jump right into number three…the dreaded writer’s block, of which you are probably intimately aware of and just as horrified of as I am. Writer’s block is weird in that everyone suffers from it (if you don’t you’re probably not human) yet there’s no set way of fixing it. That’s the million dollar cure I’m waiting for, some magic pill that can cure me every time I’m stuck in the writing slump.  Alas, writer’s block is still a serious affliction that harms millions of Americans each year, but at least there’s some remedies that can soothe the symptoms.

I have been plagued with this chronic condition for most of my life so I’ve been able to concoct a few treatments to help when I experience a flare-up. The most effective prescription I have happens to work quite well with the econ major/history nerd part of my personality, where I simply research random things. Sometimes I wiki-roulette until I come up with an idea, or I’ll read a few articles from The Economist (which yes, I have a subscription to). This treatment has historically worked wonders for my writer’s block, helping me turn an article I read about coke zero into a critique of the gender binary, or a review about Queen Bey into an analysis of the beauty industry.

Research is sometimes the enemy of writers block, however. The internet serves as an enabler for the procrastinator in all of us, which is why different remedies work wonders for others. A friend of mine swears by people-watching when she needs to break out of writer’s block.  I know someone else who goes to the gym until her funky flow renews.

It’s awesome hearing about different people’s experiences with the horrid block. For each new person I talk to I learn about a completely new and unique way to beat the sickness. And that’s the cool thing about writers, really. Have you ever met a more creative lot? A friend of mine was stuck for a week on the ending for her short story, but once she decided to feng shui her dorm room she was able to finish her story easily. Because sure, writer’s block is as inevitable as death and taxes, but you know what? As certain as there is writer’s block there is also some treatment that can help us recover.

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