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WEB COLUMN | TIM’S BIT — Writer’s block: the constipation of the mind

Maybe this article will be your inspiration!


Tim’s Bit: Tirades on our stupidest things. . . is a new web-exclusive column featuring Tim Mottishaw’s comedic tirades on some of our humanity’s dumbest problems, with regards to culture, society and politics. Read moreTim’s Bit here!


I have recently discovered the worst possible thing that can happen to a writer, and it isn’t losing a hand. It is writer’s block; an evil that not even Mnemosyne, the Greek goddess of memory, can always combat.

For those who are lucky enough to say, “what are you talking about Tim? What’s writer’s block?” I’ll tell you: it is the inability to write, the cerebral version of a bowel blockage. It’s mental constipation that can bring a writer to tears and fits of madness.

Now you read this and think, oh it can’t be that bad, you just don’t have inspiration.

Bite your tongue.

Imagine being physically constipated (you lactose intolerant people out there know what I mean). Remember that time you just had to have ice cream and your pills didn’t work? It’s like me in highschool — all these wonderful thoughts going on in your head, and they just won’t come out.

There are two common forms of writer’s block for me. The distracted kind — I would sit with my notepad, after a rousing conversation with my friend who often gives me inspiration, or pushes my buttons to fire me up, and stare at it. I would wonder how they get the ink in the pen, why blue lines on the paper, why different gauges of paper, why paper, why not linen, I like linens, I like my clothes, I need new shirts, I better get a job, I have a job, it’s writing, oh shit I’m supposed to be writing. What was I writing about? There’s nothing on the page! Ah crap, what should I put on the page? Just write Tim, just use your pen. I wonder how they get ink in a pen. . .

The brain fart kind is the second most common and the most despicable of the two. That’s when you stare at your page with your pen in hand and are lucky if even the Oscar Mayer weiner song goes through your head. And if it does, it’s like all nine muses have spoken to you at once and you weep with joy that your mind thought of something, and you lament at the fact that it is copywritten and unusable.

Ah crap, what should I put on the page? Just write Tim, just use your pen. I wonder how they get ink in a pen…

Most of the time, if I am lucky, writer’s block only lasts a couple hours to a day. Nothing a good movie, some swimming, dodgeball, sex, or other mental or physical activity can’t fix. Sometimes it’s a song, or a great conversation with your friends about what you are writing to get the old juices flowing again.

Sometimes it’s as easy as just sitting down with your pen and a note pad, and simply writing about how you have nothing coming out of your head. Sometimes even a healthy bout of procrastination can get the pressure on to scare the words out of your head. One good trigger and you’re good to go.

This time, I had no trigger. For the last week I have had deadlines creep ever closer to the point where I am not even sure if I am late for any. I went beyond the panic stage. I went into some sort of constipated zen place. A calm, that was magnified by the yoga I tried for the first time last week, then back to the panic stage, as I got an email from a classmate asking how the projects are going.

There is this massage you can give a constipated patient at a hospital that can help. . . get things moving. Sometimes it works, other times not so much. Today without warning (after coffee with this cute guy I like) I found myself running for the house and writing this.

It would appear he is my mental massage. Now this isn’t my King Lear, nor is it my Two Gentlemen of Verona. It simply is my intellectual diarrheatic. I share it because with final papers and exams coming up for many students in North America, it’s good to know you’re not alone, and like after my highschool years it does get better.
Maybe this will be your mental exlax. Good Luck!