[The following is an example of what I do when I have Blank Page Syndrome, when I have no idea what to write, but sit down to write anyway, to push through, kick the demon in the nuts, so to speak. I wrote this in February of 2015, just after I had published Be a Hobbit, and was in a lull. My hope, is that this will help you, when you find yourself in a similar situation. And it doesn’t just apply to writing; it applies to everyday life, and work. When in doubt, do something, anything. To give you even MORE flavor of my writing process, I’ve performed very little editing, spell-checking, grammar, or anything to polish this up, beyond what I must have done last year. I wanted you to see just how sloppy a text can be in its early drafts.]
If you want to listen to me read it, click below…
I have no fucking idea what to write this morning.
I really hate when that’s the case. It’s kind of been the case since I finished Be a Hobbit. I’ve written a few things since then that were okay, I reckon, but mostly I’m just kind of wandering around in the woods wondering what the hell to do next.
Maybe I should be concentrating on other things? But I’m trying to keep up the habit of writing, so here I am writing about not knowing what to write about, which is ever so fascinating to read, I’m sure. Quite possibly you’ll never see this so you won’t be bored out of your fucking mind reading it anyway. blah blah blah.
What to write what to write what to write.
I have no fuckin clue. I’m just blank this morning and it really sucks. No focus whatsoever.
What the hell does whatsoever mean? Let’s look at the word. It’s like an English attempt at being German or something: just stick a bunch of words together to make a new one.
Okay, let’s start with ‘what’. It’s one of the ‘question’ words, inquiring, probing for answers about the type of thing, or action. It’s not about people though, no, that would be ‘who’ or ‘whom.’ So it’s asking about the nature of some thing, or perhaps animal.
Then there’s ‘so’. So is such an amorphous word if you think about it. It’s kind of like ‘uhhhhh’ when you’re trying to figure out what to say next. Basically, it’s like this ridiculous article that you’re reading right now. This bit of writing is essentially my ‘so’ or ‘uhhhhh’. It’s a word that’s supposed to link two things that probably aren’t really linked. It’s a weak transition word, in other words. Instead of writing a strong linking sentence between two ideas we just insert ‘so’ and plunge ahead bravely into a new idea.
Sooooo, then there’s ‘ever’. Ever means ‘always’ or it can be a question word relating to time, in the past, as in “Do you ever clean up your room?” It’s a time word, and they are slippery as hell anyway. Sooo, we have a word asking a question about the nature of some thing: what. We have a weak linking word: so. And we have a word about time: ever. Waht the fuck do they mean when you put them all together? Basically it means, “not at all” or “never” or “not in the least bit.” The definition seems to have little to do with the component parts, it seems. Hmmm. ‘Never’ at least has to do with time, being a contraction of ‘not’ and ‘ever.’ But there seems to be no allusion to ‘what’ in those definitions. What if we defined ‘ever’, as ‘nothing at all’ or ‘none at all’? In my sentence, “No focus whatsoever,” the ‘none at all’ definition seems to work, but the time element isn’t there. Maybe it should be defined as ‘none at anytime’ or ‘none, ever’?
You’re probably thinking that I should just shut the fuck up and go pick up the Websters. Yeah, probably so, but that would mean I’d have to stop writing this fascinating article that you’re not reading because I’ve decided not to publish it ‘whatsoever.’ See, I found something to write about. It’s complete shit of course, but at least I’m filling up a page with mindless crap, and hey, that’s what writing is about, right?
Whatsoever is more complicated than its cousin, whosoever, that you hear in the King James all the time, “Whosoever cometh to me…” You know. That one is easier to parse out. It doesn’t seem to have the negative twinge to it that whatsoever does. It just means ‘any person’. It’s very vague. Doesn’t matter who, just any ole person will do. Come on down! I don’t really care who you are, just come. If you think about it, it’s kind of demeaning. Your personality, your inner being is of no importance to me, is of no consequence, just as long as you come along. As long as you can fog a fuckin’ mirror, you’ll do. I’m not sure that’s what ole Jesus meant when he said it. Of course he didn’t actually say it that way, since he wasn’t one of those English guys living in James’ court in the 17th century wearing those ridiculous tights and those poofy, accordion collars around his neck. Could you imagine that?
Anyway, I digress. I digress a lot. Have you noticed that?
No, I don’t think Jesus was being dismissive when he used, “whosoever’. I think that he probably meant the opposite. I reckon it can also mean, ‘everyone is welcome’ to come. Which sounds a lot more friendly, and Jesus-y. Whosoever has made it to the end of this fucking article is either really bored in their ‘real’ life, or they’re insane or something. I wouldn’t read this shit that’s for sure. Not whatsoever.
Maybe one of these days I’ll figure out what to write about next. I don’t actually have writer’s block, I don’t think. It’s just that I haven’t ‘dropped into the next wave’ so to speak in surfer speak, which I never do, but I think it’s very much like that.
I remember when I used to surf, or body-board, back in the day. Sometimes you would lay there on your board, watching wave after wave pass you by, trying to find that ‘perfect’ wave, because if you took some mediocre wave you would either miss it, which meant turning around and swimming back out, or you would catch it and maybe ride it a way into the beach, but it would be no big thrill. Then you would have to swim even further back out and inevitably you would miss ‘the’ wave in the process. Probably ‘the’ wave would break over your head, possibly smacking the board into your face because you were mesmerized by the fact that you’d been floating there for ten minutes waiting for that wave, only to miss it because you got bored and rode a lame one instead.
I think most of us run into that scenario. We are looking for something extraordinary, but don’t have the patience to wait for it, so we jump onto something mediocre instead, and then the extraordinary thing comes along and we miss it because we’re tied up in mediocrity. But maybe the mediocre is that way because we perceive it to be? Probably. It’s probably just a matter of perception, or a projection of our own mind. We ‘make’ it mediocre by saying it is, and not recognizing the extraordinariness of a particular situation or thing. It’s the old ‘you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone’ scenario, I reckon.
I’m supposed to be writing for an hour this morning. I’m trying to get back into the habit, but it’s tough because I can’t seem to drop into a wave today. So I’m all over the fucking place, obviously. And the clock ticks on.
I’m gonna go work on something else.
Also, do join me and many other writers and creative people on Anchor, where we are having an open discussion on the topic of writing! Below is the full discussion that took place today, if you want to listen into the fun!
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How I Write #4:Brainstorming, Note Taking, Outlines and First Dates
Steve Bivans is the author one book, Be a Hobbit, Save the Earth: the Guide to Sustainable Shire Living, over 100 blog articles, and is currently working on his second book, The End of Fear Itself.