Get Over It (It Being the Mental Block of Writing)

This may come as a shock, but sometimes I hate to write. Or at least I think I do. Like so many things we ultimately enjoy, sometimes we can’t get over the mental block of just starting the project. I tell people in my writing workshops that writing is a lot like exercising; if you do a bit each day, it becomes habitual and it’s not as hard to get going each time. Given the nature of my full-time job, the need to do long-form writing ebbs and flows. Last week an article appeared in the New York Times that deserved a response from our organization. My boss asked if I had time to write it the next day. Of course I did. But did I want to? Nope. Luckily in those few foggy moments between the morning alarm going off and my feet actually touching the floor, I recalled that I had written a similar response recently. Aha! I already had the piece. I just needed to edit it lightly.

I searched through my files and found what I was thinking of — a response piece to The Chronicle of Higher Education written more than a year ago. I opened the document and set to making my edits. About a half hour later I was done. And when I looked at it I realized that I had used maybe two sentences from the original piece. It was otherwise completely different. So much for light edits.

My point is that it was all in my mind. I was dreading it because I envisioned a blank piece of paper but by working off a similar document that was already completed, I was able to trick my mind into thinking I didn’t have as big of a hurdle to overcome.

(In case you’re wondering, here’s the response piece.)

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