On (lack of) writing

Power of Words

I’ve never believed in writer’s block. As a journalist with regular deadlines, you’d never keep your job if you sat around, serenely gazing out the window while waiting for inspiration to strike, before you even wrote one single word.

In my office, I actually sit with my back to the window. And for years and years, I generally had offices or was in newsrooms with no windows at all. In hindsight it probably made me much more productive, if slightly pale.

But then again journalism is not songwriting or sonnets or screenplays. There’s a reason why us journos are generally called “hacks”. In fact, according to Wikipedia, that term in journalism describes a “writer deemed to operate as a ‘mercenary’ or ‘pen for hire’, expressing their client’s political opinions in pamphlets or newspaper articles”. That does make it all sound very revolutionary but it’s not overly realistic.

So-called ‘hack writers’ are also usually paid by the numbers of words in their book or article; as a result, hack writing seemingly has a reputation for quantity taking precedence over quality. I’m not too sure I agree with this description either.

And while to be a journalist you don’t have to wait until wordsmithery-brilliance strikes to compile a decent story, writing a blog generally means you do. And lately, I fear, there hasn’t been very much of that at all. Zilch. Nada.

I have written this blog for two years now, and while I remain perplexed why I haven’t been offered a three-book deal by a New York publisher yet, I generally have managed to rustle up a blog every week or every fortnight. Mostly these have been about my terrible love life, my various ridiculous neuroses, as well as quite a few blogs about people who I’ve met on planes – who knew cabin pressure could get the creative juices flowing so earnestly?

The last blog I wrote was three weeks ago and it was about love. And in the 20-plus days since, I realised that I couldn’t just keep writing about how fabulous my life generally – and especially my love-life – is at the moment, because that would be very boring for everyone else but me. And I would likely sound like a pretentious wanker. So, in response to such a light-bulb moment, I wrote absolutely nothing.

Days stretched to weeks and I searched vainly around for topics that I could opine verbosely upon. Alas I found that my current overall happy well being, and puke-worthy loved-upness, meant that I couldn’t find one lowly subject that was annoying me at all. Not one. Not even (Australian prime minister) Tony Abbott – well not as much as usual.

The only thing that I could find that was annoying me was my lack of ability to find something to write about so I decided to write a blog about that and you are now reading it. Problem solved it seems.

A friend said the other night that happiness doesn’t sit well with creatives because it gives us nothing to write about. I tend to agree. I also read a quote from Benjamin Franklin, which said you either needed to write something worth reading or do something worth writing about.

I doubt whether this blog was what he meant when he wrote those motivational words, nor did he probably mean bouncing around all goey-eyed on a pink cloud with your lover as doing something meaningful. Fabulous though it may be to those involved.

Doing something worth writing about, however, is something that I’ve always ascribed too. That’s why very soon I’m jumping in a car and going on an adventure. I don’t know where I’ll end up or what sort of adventure it will be. It might be north or south. It could even be into the wild west, you know like Toowoomba.

It won’t be east though because you’d need a boat to travel very far in that direction from where I live or at least have a very strong swimming ability. Maybe I should attempt to swim to New Zealand wearing an orange swimsuit and my fetching 50s-inspired cap while also humming Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now? Now even Benjamin would agree that’d be worthy enough to write about.

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