So your professor wants you to write an article for the school newspaper. That sounds like it should be easy enough! You could write about an event going on at the school, or one of the clubs that meets on campus, or maybe address an issue that has a lot of resonance with your peers, or you could even write a movie review for a movie that’s come out recently. But what if you are like me, someone who is an older student, who lives off-campus, has crippling social anxiety, and doesn’t have enough money to go to the movie theater? Well, I happen to be very much like me, and I’m here to help you!
FIVE EASY STEPS!!
- PROCRASTINATE by doing all your other homework first.
Hey! A lot of your other homework is writing, right? So if you do a bunch of writing, you’ll prime those writing muscles for action and your writer’s block will be solved! Or maybe not. But hey, you got all your other homework done! That’s not a bad thing!
- ASK someone for an idea.
Your first stop will be your teacher, the one who gave you the assignment. He or she will tell you that’s not their problem, and they’re right, but that doesn’t solve your issue, unfortunately. Start asking the (person/people/animal(s)/ghost(s)) you live with for suggestions. Most of them will be unhelpful, especially if you are asking your pets, since you’re fairly certain your fellow students don’t want to hear about how delicious chicken is or how fascinating cardboard boxes are.
- MAKE A LIST of all possible topics for your article.
This is another tip along the lines of the first, but gets you thinking more creatively. Start writing down every single possible article topic you can think of, whether or not you think they’re a good idea to follow through on. What’s the deal with 90’s nostalgia anyway? Why my cat likes vanilla ice cream more than cat food. Why my cats are so cute. Pros and cons of being an Old and Married student. Should you get married? Should anyone get married? I like my marriage fine but is it an outdated tradition? Would my cats still get the benefits of a stable & loving home if we weren’t married? Penguin dust, penguin dust!* So what if your list starts sounding like stream of consciousness Beat poetry that happens to mostly be about your cats! Maybe the Beat poets were really just trying to cure their writer’s block after all! Maybe Allen Ginsberg had a cat! Maybe you should write an article about it!
- Get up and DANCE!
This is around the point where the (person/people/animal(s)/ghost(s)) you live with will start to notice that you are frustrated. After asking if there is anything they can do to help (“probably not, Biscuit, since you wanted me to write about cat food and how cute you are”), they will turn on an upbeat song from the late 1960s and bid you to dance with them. This is actually a good idea: getting your blood flowing and dancing as silly as you can with someone (ghosts included) that makes you laugh will help to loosen up your writer’s block. To go back to the muscle metaphor: a muscle that’s all tensed up and knotted can’t work, so getting it loose will help you to be able to use it properly again!
And if all else fails…
- WRITE about your writer’s block.
Well, that’s what I just did, and it worked for me. It might work for you too.
*Penguin dust credit to Gregory Corso and his poem “Marriage”