Mid-winter Writer’s Block Blues

The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines writer’s block as “a psychological inhibition preventing a writer from proceeding with a piece”. I am lucky enough never to have suffered from this particular affliction. When most people stare at a blank sheet of white paper, they see nothing. I, on the other hand, see unlimited potential. I’ve never used writer’s block as an excuse for not being able to write.

However, I do suffer from acute procrastination. I was going to join the self-help group Procrastinators Anonymous but I missed the registration date. It didn’t matter. The meeting was postponed anyway. (Thank you! I’ll be here all week! Try the veal!)

But seriously, as my deadline looms, I’ve got a newspaper column to write. I don’t have time to fool around. This past weekend I knew in advance I was going to be tight on time. I like to have my column outlined and rough-drafted the week before it is scheduled to run. The secret to writing is to get everything down on paper on the first draft. The words can then be edited and fine-tuned until it reaches perfection (or at least coherency). Realistically, that “week before” thing never works out for me.

Even though the hectic holiday season is behind me, there’s always something happening to sidetrack my time. First, it was my granddaughter’s musical recital She performed a rousing rendition of the song “Thunder” by Imagine Dragons. Move over Olivia Rodrigo. This talented seven-year old is a rising pop-music diva with a media-savvy grandpa as her manager. Next, I lost a day as the lease ended on our car and my wife and I decided to purchase the vehicle. Let’s just say it was more complicated than just signing on the dotted line. Throw in a 2-1/2 hour job interview at a nursing home to become a weekend activities director and suddenly my time was at a premium. (I didn’t take the job, I couldn’t fit it into my already overloaded schedule but it sounded like a good idea at the time.)

I managed to write down a few topics of interest I wanted to expound upon, but when it came time to sit down and actually format a story, there were a multitude of distractions waiting for me at every turn. We were having houseguests for the weekend. I was super-happy to enjoy a Saturday night get-together at Fusion Taste. And I was even happier our friends were able to stay over in Stoneham without having to make the long-distance drive home to southern Massachusetts after an evening of Scorpion Bowls and Chocolate Martinis.

I knew I’d find some free time on the weekend to write. As usual, the days flew by. I spent Sunday morning on a video call from my son in Tokyo to make sure everything was going well for him. There were episodes of “Is It Cake” that had to be watched on Netflix. French Press coffee had to be made and a box of Mike’s Bakery pastries from the North End had to be eaten. I needed to finish drawing this week’s cartoon for the newspaper as well. All in good time.

Sunday’s Buffalo Bills football game had me glued to the television for the afternoon. Something called The Musial Awards (not a typo, Google it) kept my attention for a while. And when I put my winter coat on to run outside to get the bag of left-over Chinese food I left in my car, my watch got caught in my sleeve and the pins and strap went flying in all directions across the kitchen floor. After consulting YouTube for an easy way to replace watch pins, I agonizingly put my watch back together. I was barely going to have enough time to check in with the Critic’s Choice Awards to see Jennifer Coolidge. And the new horror movie on Peacock was going to have to wait at least another week.

With the clock ticking, I knew I better start writing something down on paper even if I didn’t have a subject fully formed. I fired up my lap-top and got my fingers moving. I realized in that moment how much I love taking a blank white sheet of paper and turning it into something that someone might enjoy, relate to, or just for an instant catch themselves with a half smile on their lips as they think to themselves, “so…I’m not the only one.”


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