For the last couple of weeks I have been experiencing the most terrible blogger’s block. It’s similar to writer’s block, except I can’t call myself a writer because I’m only a blogger. Unfortunately for me, this has coincided with starting a Diploma in Journalism where I am obliged to write a number of pieces to a deadline, you know, like an actual writer.
Last week we were given the task of writing a feature piece of 700 words, to be handed in the following week. Normally I would think that 700 words is not much at all to write a balanced piece, with quotes and information. In my current state, I waded through words at a snail’s pace, counting them up sentence by sentence in the hope that I would eventually meet the elusive and enormous target. If it’s as turgid to read as it was to write, I don’t hold out much hope for my grade. Anyway it’s done, and I used the skeleton of it to write a blog post Paternity Leave, Breastfeeding and Gender Equality. And here I am writing a post about how difficult it was to write it, and so the world folds in on itself.
Aside from the course, I’ve been having a hard time coming up with blog posts. I have a couple of ideas in drafts but can’t manage to carve them into anything of any note. I stare at the screen and my brain fuzzes. I tap my phone, to see if I got a message, even though I heard no beep. I check my email. I write a sentence more. I check Twitter on my phone. I read my last paragraph, and delete a line. I check Twitter on my laptop. I search for photos to use with the non-existent post I’m writing. I literally cannot concentrate on the task of writing for longer than three minutes without checking to see what’s happening with the people who live in my phone. RIP my ability to concentrate.
It’s not just the distractions though, I’m thinking about it too much. I’m thinking about who is going to read it, rather than writing truthfully. On my journalism course, I’m supposed to write articles with balance. But this is my blog, and it’s a space for me to voice my opinions. I would imagine that most of us would agree that our most popular posts have been those that come from the heart. In my own experience, the easier a post is to write, the better feedback it gets, presumably the interest and passion transfers to the reader. I was starting to experience increasing panic that I hadn’t written anything for a week or so. I have to write something. I have to write something. The more I panicked, the further my brain fogged over.
Then came despondency, ‘What is the point?’ What am I trying to achieve here? Even though I generally am not concerned with my stats, sometimes I look at them on a low day and feel despondent. Humblebrag coming up – getting Mumsnet Blog of the Day is great, but boy does it make the rest of your posts look measly. But chasing numbers is a fools game and generally the dissatisfaction comes from comparing your own figures with someone else. Someone who is not you and, as we all know, comparison is the thief of joy.
So what have I learned as I stared at my screen waiting for inspiration to strike?
It happens to everyone and there are great ideas to get yourself out of it. I really enjoyed this post from Island Living on How to Overcome Blogger’s Block.
Take a break. It really isn’t the end of the world if you don’t publish a blog post for a week or two.
This is your blog, your space. To thine own self be true.
Finally, consider putting your phone under something very heavy, and very far away.