Blocked up

So I’m at a conference about science communication. I’m surrounded by fellow science nerds, communicators, journalists and scientist. I have met some inspiring, fascinating, funny and dedicated individuals who have fired me with enthusiasm to be a better science journalist, a more diligent blogger and a more discerning science nerd.

I am brimming with ideas about blog posts to write. In fact, I have started writing at least FOUR different blog posts over the last two days, and got no further than three paragraphs for every single one.

It’s driving me insane. How can I possibly be at a conference about communication, and be totally unable to communicate?

This is writer’s block.


It sucks. But it happens a lot.

When I first began working as a medical reporter on a weekly magazine, I was occasionally given features to write in addition to my weekly news round. I would agonise over these features and treat the writing of them like the creation of a Faberge egg by a sect of monks who worship Faberge eggs. I used to feel that I needed seclusion, calm, time for distilling information, time to sit in the lotus position waiting for the perfect first sentence to crystallise in my mindful brain.

But writing, especially as a professional, just doesn’t work like that. Creativity isn’t some preening, prancing glittery diva who must have her ego carefully stroked and nurtured until she is prepared to go on stage and sing. She’s a work horse just like any other who gets the standard bag of oats and who occasionally needs a good flogging to get moving.

In contrast to my early days as a journalist, when I used to view my creativity as the diva, I’m now very much in the flogging zone (as evidenced by my determination to crash through the Block Barrier and deliver a blog post today).

If I have a deadline to meet, I will break out the bull whip and just force the words out of that stubborn ass (the four-legged not the two-cheeked variety, for any Americans reading). Sometimes that means throwing some seriously clunky shit down onto the page and knowing that I’ll come back and fix it up at a later time when my ass is not so stubborn.

And the same applies to writing fiction. Every night at 7.30pm, I sit down at the computer and bulldoze another few hundred or even a thousand words onto the page. Sometimes it’s easy. Sometimes it’s hard. But I get something on the page.


I did it.



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