Writer’s Block


I was shocked when I realized yesterday that the last time I posted here was 12 days ago. That isn’t such a long dry spell but it comes after several months of diminishing posts and of a general feeling of blog malaise. When you blog and then stop blogging there is a tendency (at least for me) to feel slightly guilty: like readers are disappointed. And then I feel like that’s ridiculous, there are roughly 4-million some bloggers out there and the lack of my voice out there in the blogosphere isn’t going to matter much. Then I think about posting about my guilt and my angst over that guilt and that just seems like a pathetic attempt to get readers to comment on how much they miss me and love everything I write. So what do I do? I don’t write anything.

That’s part of it. Of course, I could just ignore my lack of posting and instead write about other stuff. But what stuff? I think the other part of my posting problem is I’m not sure anymore what I want the blog to be. I started blogging mostly because I just wanted the opportunity to write. Over the years that I’ve been doing it I’ve also enjoyed the community aspect, especially in niche communities like among book bloggers. I’ve also migrated from just writing about stuff I’m thinking about to mostly writing about books but I don’t really think of myself as a book blogger. So what do I do? I don’t write anything.

So that’s also part of it. The other part is that my non-virtual life has been busy this spring. Baseball and a beach vacation and all the end of the school year celebrations and recitals and plays and picnics. In reality though the idea that I’m somehow too busy to blog is a lie. Yes, I’ve been busy; mostly that busy-ness is work and school and kids and reading in the spare minutes. But I’ve found also the time to spend more time on a homeschool message board. And to watch Chopped. I’ve spent evenings surfing the Internet following interesting (and not so interesting) links. I think most of the time when we claim that we are too busy to do something it means that other things are just more important. There is only so much extra time in the day and lately I haven’t been choosing to use it to blog. Still, I tell myself I’m too busy. And I don’t write anything.

More than anything though I think it’s simply that I’ve gotten out of the habit. New habits have crept in and taken over. I’m not in any way comparing myself to John McPhee. However, in thinking about this lack of a habit of writing I thought of a recent article in The New Yorker by him on writer’s block:

You are writing, say, about a grizzly bear. No words are forthcoming. For six, seven, ten hours no words have been forthcoming. You are blocked, frustrated, in despair. You are nowhere, and that’s where you’ve been getting. What do you do? You write, ‘Dear Mother.’ And then you tell your mother about the block, the frustration, the ineptitude, the despair. You insist that you are not cut out to do this kind of work. You whine. You whimper. You outline your problem, and you mention that the bear has a fifty-five-inch waist and a neck more than thirty inches around but could run nose-to-nose with Secretariat. You say the bear prefers to lie down and rest. The bear rests fourteen hours a day. And you go on like that as long as you can. And then you go back and delete the ‘Dear Mother’ and all the whimpering and whining, and just keep the bear.  

”Draft No. 4”, by John McPhee, in the April 29, 2013 The New Yorker

I have no big conclusions or resolutions about this blog. But you can consider this post a habit-breaking ‘Dear Mother’ letter.

3 thoughts on “Writer’s Block

  1. Pop was thrilled you mentioned John McPhee! We both miss your posts, but know you are just recharging. You are a great writer!

  2. I’ve missed you too! I love all your posts, whether you’re talking about books, musing about homeschooling, or other random tidbits. But I’ve been enjoying your blog in its new, less-regular iteration too – it makes it a nice surprise when there’s something new up. So I’d still be looking forward to reading what you write, whether it’s regular reviews or just occasional thoughts.

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