03 May, 2011

Writer's Block...Sort Of

Avoidance FTL
I have writer's block. Sort of. I know for an absolute fact that if I were to give in to temptation and open up any one of the fiction pieces I'm working on, I would be kicking ass and chewing bubblegum in no time. It would feel great. I know this, just like I know that if I were to open up a blank Word doc and try to write an academic paper on, for instance, emotional rhetoric in political campaigns, I would sit staring blankly at the screen, wander off and have a smoke, call my friend and chat about random crap, pour myself a drink, drink it, consider making bread, and finally sit down and bang out a whiny, self-absorbed blog about how hard grad school is that I would then realize is crap and subsequently delete.

Three guesses why I know this.

I want to be writing something fun. I need school to be over, so I can devote myself to writing for the fun of it.  I want to be revising that novel thing. I want to be putting the finishing touches on my newest short story and shopping it around. I want to be starting to pin down the new thing that's floating around my consciousness, the thing that I lie in bed and plan out when I can't sleep, because it's fun. And academic writing, at some point, has become un-fun for me. 

I need to be writing my Research Problem, a final paper which functions like a thesis in any normal master's program. I need to be writing my final paper for History of Rhetoric, in which I intend to analyze As Seen on TV commercials and prove that they prey on our fear of being alone and helpless. I need to be writing my stylistic and rhetorical analysis of The Communist Manifesto for my British Essay class. These are all things that I love thinking, talking, and reading about. It's time to start writing.

Slap your troubles away...
Because the key word here is "writing." Not "thinking about writing," or "talking about writing," or even, heaven help us, "planning to start writing." I am a master of avoidance. I have made exhaustive outlines, taped them to my office wall, and then gone on to make neat and tidy tables that convey key pieces of information. I have wandered into fellow GA's offices, and the offices of "real" faculty, and had fascinating conversations about my research. I have watched the damn Slap Chop commercial roughly 42 times.

I decided the problem was location; my office, I reasoned, a place designed to be worked in, was too full of distractions. There are simply too many interesting people hanging around there. So I relocated to my house, on the logic that at least my dogs aren't likely to be doing interesting research on the rhetorical practices of Victorian women or Alexander Pope. I may have mentioned how well that's working out for me.

But May is here, and it's time to put my money where my mouth is.

What are your avoidance strategies? And how do you overcome them?


  1. I played Insane Aquarium for almost three hours last night. Go me!

    And I must say, I am proud and somewhat jealous that academic writing has EVER been fun for you. I find writing in general very, very not fun. How did I manage to become an English major? There are many times I ask myself why I thought this was a good idea.

    Do they offer Master's degree's in Insane Aquarium Awesomness? Because if they do, I'm all over that!

  2. LOL love it. I think I could get a PhD in Final Fantasy.

    Academic writing used to be something I really loved to do. I loved the process of research, the process of putting my thoughts together and analyzing the cool stuff I read. But I think after four semesters of grad school, the fire has gone out. Especially after I passed comps. I can't help but feel like if I could do that, haven't I proven myself? Do I need to write MORE STUFF?!

    And it doesn't help that I am getting all excited about my fiction writing. Somehow knowing that there's something new and exciting out there for me to work on makes it hard to focus.

    And you are a fantastic English major.

  3. Thanks! :) This will not, however, deter my interest in seeking a second Master's in Insane Aquarium Awesomeness...