by Amy Lombardo
It's the very end of the semester. Everything seemed to be going smoothly. May began after April, right on schedule. Temperatures began to rise in a sporadic and unpredictable manner, which is completely normal and pretty much expected here in St. Louis. All was well. That is until... (drumroll, please) da, da, da, da, da, da (thank you) da, da... Writer's Block hits me like a bat out of Hades.
I have been writing all semester—for classes, for The Current, in my personal journal, in letters, and through e-mail—and I have had a few isolated incidents where I struggled with a topic or a lead. I have always had the luxury of time, or at least the illusion of time, which created a sense (however false it may have been) of security.
Now, for some reason, I have made the mistake of looking my deadline square in the eye, and it has indeed turned me to stone.
This ailment, known in writers' circles as simply "The Block," is a purely psychological phenomenon. But being aware of this does not make the effect any less real.
Unlike "senioritis" (see my earlier column on senioritis for more details on this tragic syndrome), knowing that you have The Block does not help the situation. In fact, this could actually cause more damage than good. You see, its goal is to wound you in your head. Hitting directly at the brain's core, The Block grabs hold and begins to eat away at all creative and independent thought. Soon you will be second-guessing every grammatical decision, running spell check for any word over two syllables and, finally, finding it difficult to complete any phrase more advanced than "See Spot run." Slowly but surely, The Block is able to work its way down to the muscles in your arms and hands, causing your small motor skills to become sluggish and eventually stop. This makes it impossible to type or write at all, even the really bad stuff you were writing before.
The worst is yet to come. While you are sitting there, staring at your computer or notepad, eyes glazed over and saliva beginning to gather at the corner of your mouth, it suddenly occurs to you, "I have writer's block."
Just fahgedaboudit after that. It's approximately 1.27 seconds after that realization hits that you begin to panic.
"I can't have writer's block," you say, "this 12-page research paper on "Why Bugs Bunny is the Devil," is due in seven hours, and all I've written is my name! And I'm not even sure if that's spelled correctly! ARGHHHHHH!"
It's futile to put up a fight at this point. The only way out is the door. I mean, literally, you have to get up and leave for a while. You have to forget you have The Block or it will continue to control you indefinitely. The more you think about it, the more you stress, the more you freeze up, the less you accomplish. So, for goodness sake, get out of there before it's too late.
Just remember to go back in time to finish your assignment.