Since creating this word document, I’ve written the first paragraph for five different articles. The first, titled “5 life lessons I learned at a strip club” fell short when I realized I couldn’t think of five lessons after all. The second, titled “What am I?” fell flat after a few attempts at making it humorous, because I knew that only I thought those jokes were funny. The third was about life and death. Overused. The fourth was about a boy who’s been on my mind for quite some time now. Cliché. The fifth is this.
I have Facebook open, and I’m scrolling through my homepage, judging every single person I see there. I pull Tumblr up just for the hell of it, but seeing the Tumblr models makes me feel ugly and insignificant and vapid, all at once, all rolled together in one giant ball of self-loathing, so I close that tab and come back to this.
Did you know you’re two times more likely to be killed by a vending machine than by a shark? I only know this because I just read a Buzzfeed article that told me so, and Buzzfeed is always right. It kind of sucks that there’s no Vending Machine Week on Discovery, too.
I’m playing sad music, because I hope that incites in me something dark and edgy that will make people cry. I also have lit a creativity candle, bought from a voodoo store in New Orleans. Whether or not it works, to be determined. I am a little worried that it’s going to finish burning before I finally create a damn article good enough to send in.
I’ve begun four different novels just this year. They’ve all stopped after the first chapter. I have titles for them and everything. I have this dream of being like Hannah Horvath, sans the scary sex life, and getting an e-book deal by 25. I’m 19, and seeing how many times I’ve restarted this article itself, I’m going to need all the time I can get to accomplish this.
If you’re a writer, you’ve experienced this. Writer’s block is a bitch. A lot of people like to claim it doesn’t exist, but let me assure you, it does. Sometimes you have every intention of writing — of sitting down and producing something worthwhile and lovely — only to have nothing happen. Your hands hover over the keyboard, while you stare blankly at a blank page. Zero. Zilch. Nada.
It’s infuriating. Sometimes you have a vague idea, but solidifying it into something that you can put on the page is impossible. So you try free writing, reading Salinger or Sylvia Plath, and even lighting creativity candles. But these accomplish nothing. The page is still blank. You walk away from it frustrated and defeated. If this is what you do, why can’t you do it? Do business owners have business-owning block? Do engineers get engineering block? Is anyone still reading this?
Writing is hard. George Orwell once compared it to an illness, saying, “One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.” As someone who’s seen every Paranormal Activity movie (and stayed up all night afterwards—sometimes even for weeks), I don’t fuck with demons, but no other quote has ever been more true for me. Except for maybe the great Paris Hilton saying that every girl is born with glitter in her veins. (Maybe that was Marilyn Monroe. I’ll consult Pinterest.)
I am driven by a demon I cannot resist nor understand. Writing is a compulsion, not an option. It’s the driving force of my livelihood. Without it, I’d hate to think of where I would be right now. Nowhere good. Nowhere happy.
Writing breaks us down, builds us up, and pisses us the hell off. Sometimes words don’t come, and that scares us. We fear the day that writer’s block is no passing phase, but a constant state. We fear the day words run dry, because that’s really all we have. Until then, we’ll fight like hell. We’ll feed that demon.
We’ll listen to sad music. We’ll light candles. We’ll write… eventually.