Originally published in the Albany Student Press, 9/5/05

I tried to focus my attention, but I feel so A-D-D; I need some help, some inspiration, but its not coming easily Natasha Bedingfield hit the nail on the head of something I think all college students have suffered from, and probably suffered from more than once: Writer’s Block.

Writer’s block comes in all forms, disguising itself in a myriad of ways. Sometimes it seeps in as a burning curiosity as to what witty away messages your AIM buddies have. Sometimes it sneaks into your brain as a sudden desire to clean your room or do your laundry.

It can come in the form of a phone call from your buddies, reminding you that it is Wing Night at Sutter’s. More often than not, though, it comes in the form of an overwhelmed exhaustion.

As college students – undergraduates, masters, and PhD students alike – we will experience this, probably at least once or twice a semester. However, just like the editor of a newspaper would not accept this excuse from a staff reporter on deadline, our professors certainly will not tolerate it.

Saying, “I’m sorry, Professor So-and-So, but my paper isn’t finished because my muse wouldn’t speak to me this week. I’ll hand it in as soon as she inspires me,” will only get you academic probation.

But, you say, getting my muse to speak to me when she doesn’t feel like it is not easy. How do I force her hand? There are many ways. Why do you think it is that writers, journalists, college students and, yes, even professors, wait until the 11th hour to complete a task? Muses sing under pressure. Though, it isn’t uncommon for a muse to be stubborn. After all, she may have wanted to speak to you three days ago, but you decided to use your unexpected energy to go dancing at Hump Wednesday.

Being the spiteful woman she can be, she’s crossed her arms and turned her back in a pout. She’s not talking. Drastic times call for drastic measures. That is, artificial stimulation. For those of you that are fans of the TV series The West Wing, you’ll remember how Aaron Sorkin, the show’s beloved creator and head writer, left the reins to John Wells (of ER fame) because he got charged with possession.

Sorkin was, and still is, lauded for his excellent writing. It seems, when the chips were down, Sorkin preferred cocaine to stimulate his muse. To counteract the “exhaustion” that Writer’s block disguises itself as, writers will often engage in the use of amphetamines. I don’t endorse this.

Caffeine works just fine. And you’re keeping fine corporations such as Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts in business as a result, so everyone wins. Now, cup of coffee in hand, books to my right and notes to my left, I’m ALL set to start writing this 20 page masterpiece.

Now that I’ve got my zone, my professor will be simply BLOWN AWAY by the greatness that will flow through these fingertips … … but, before I get started, I should probably check my email. After all, I haven’t checked it in two hours, and a lot can happen in two hours.

Perhaps I should surf Google News, while I’m at it. There could be another hurricane ready to hit. And isn’t The Apprentice on tonight? …

Advertisements