That hideous block

Published 11:00 am Wednesday, April 10, 2024

I have a little white cube on my desk.

It’s made out of paper and is about 3 inches by 3 inches by 3 inches.

I made it myself, but I don’t like it.

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It’s ugly and just takes up space on my desk (though not that much). It’s aggravating. It’s a glaring presence on my desk and I just know that if I try to throw it away, it’ll simply reappear on my desk later.

I find myself staring at it sometimes, unable to look away. It’s … magnetic. And it seems to stare back at me, causing my brain to pause and, uh … yeah.

If there’s anything good about it, it’s that my normally ADHD-filled thoughts are stalled for a moment.

I’m a writer and editor. It’s what I do for a living. Part of my goal every day is to be honest in what I write. I want to present truth — even if it’s offensive, even if it’s not popular, and even if I get hateful emails and comments online — giving a non-biased presentation of what things are happening, have happened or are planned for my readership’s area.

I work hard to be trustworthy and reliable. I work hard to write clearly and (if possible) in a way that readers will understand and enjoy, even if they don’t like the facts of the story.

Sometimes it is easy to write, and my fingers on the keyboard are wonderfully connected to the flow of ideas and wording that is stirring about in my mind. Other times, the writing comes hard. It’s difficult to start, and difficult to keep going, difficult to wrap it up.

So what is this hideous white thing on my desk, and how does it fit into all this?

It’s my writer’s block.

It’s the legendary, awful reality that sometimes presents itself when I least expect it, and certainly when I least need it. Why can’t I come up with a good idea for an opinion piece? Why can’t I think of a way to start this story about an interesting local figure? Why am I having such a problem knowing how to end this article about what the local government is planning?

It’s that blasted writer’s block.

I’ve asked my boss to get rid of it.

“Can’t do that. It comes with the job.”

A lot of authors have shared some pretty good wisdom about writer’s block. Others haven’t, because they got hit with writer’s block!

But here are a few of the interesting bits:

• “When you face writer’s block, just lower your standards and keep going.” — Sandra Tsing Loh

• “I don’t believe in ‘writer’s block.’ I try and deal with getting stuck by having more than one thing to work on at a time. And by knowing that even a hundred bad words that didn’t exist before is forward progress.” — Neil Gaiman

• “Amateurs sit and wait for inspiration. The rest of us just get up and go to work.” — Stephen King

Well, I guess that advice (among countless other bits) should push me to keep going no matter what. Good advice.

But maybe my favorite advice on writer’s block comes from poet and author Charles Bukowski — “Writing about writer’s block is better than not writing at all.”

News editor Brett Campbell can be reached at