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Writer’s Block And What It Truly Is

Originally published on africanlovestories.wordpress.com

A Writer’s Block is a fancy phrase to justify absence from writing or simply a case of complete cluelessness. – Unen Ameji

There, I said it!

So it has been a while since my hasty fingers made contact with these black responsive keys. The clicking sounds, the euphoric feeling of emptying your thoughts, seeing your thoughts come alive and walk on pages’ streets, the magic or absolute chaos created… Oh! The rush… But then, I have been suffering from this condition for only writers – Writer’s Block.

It has been a while since I called myself a writer with a straight face or truly meant it. Of course I still call myself one when I am in the mood to create an exotic personality that’s increasingly becoming common and embarrassingly cheap – a fact I believe has something to do with free blog sites and freedom to spew rubbish and call it art.

This reminds me of a time free notebooks and pens were given and the cute English aunty told us to write and draw whatever we wanted to. The outcome as you rightly anticipated – utter rubbish. But the beautiful toothless smiles on the faces of the happiest culprits… the greatest writers and artists the world would come to know – the exercise was a memorable one. Fast forward decades later, and I am in need of round glasses, bulgy eyes, brown dusty libraries and a secluded writing pad to go with this bold but demanding title. Writing is hard work, if you did not know, especially if you regard it serious enough to be good at it.

Now, imagine you are lying down, prepped for surgery on the operating table about to go ‘under’ and the Surgeon walks in, with a solemn look on his pious face, he takes his scalpels and he announces he has just experienced a serious pre-surgical condition called “Surgeon’s Block”… Or a Bank Teller can’t get your cheque cashed because suddenly, he can’t seem to figure out how to confirm the cheque because he is having a Teller’s Block. I am pretty sure the manager’s office will be the next place you’d be stopping. And if he has Manager’s Block? I pity you.

You see, if we must be taken seriously as writers and not freelance loafers aka twitter fighters with amusing hashtags such as #PayWritersNow, #NoMoneyNoWriting, #PayBeforeIWrite, #SupportWritersOrDie, #NeverSayDieTillYouWrite, #MoneyForBankWritersForGround, the phrase ‘Writer’s Block’ must be removed from the words that exist in our writosphere. Yes, I made that up. I am a WRITER. Professionals in all fields do what they have to do because their job or dream is on the line. How about they do what they must to survive and pay bills? You should know that whether you are comfortable or impressed with what you have written, you should keep writing. After all, no be all the time puff-puff dey dey golden brown.

So again, why do I use the term ‘Writer’s Block’, you ask?

Here are some of my deepest reasons. Be nice.

  1. To sound interesting and mightily mystical

To be a writer – whether unpublished, unknown, un-faced or relatively published – you have to appear to be so interesting that the next person will feel like if he or she does not appreciate the permutation and combination of the words swimming in your head, the evidence of kryptonic books, articles and poems you have written under intense bible-like inspiration and the rapturous boom-ba explosion when you open your mouth to read the book that you painstakingly and haphazardly wrote or give a half-baked speech at TEDx, then life as they know it will cease to exist – literally. Now imagine if this force of nature, this interesting life’s source suddenly experiences an unexplainable condition known as Writer’s Block? Oh my!

  1. To have opinions that are taken as the absolute truth or nearest in meaning…especially after an episode of Writer’s Block

Remember the fanatical twitter fight on who pays tithe, why it should be paid in the first place, to whom it finally reaches and how it mysteriously disappears after you drop it in the divine collection bowls or the bottomless altars? Ok, just adjust that a little and you will understand why it is absolutely necessary to once in a while experience a condition that is somehow likened to a celestial mandate that must not be understood but swallowed without any form of doubt or stupid questions. No such thing as common sense as to the validity of this tithing “Writer’s Block” celestial mandate.

P.S (Google Tithing and Nigerian Pastors if you have no idea what that is)

  1. To impress really fabulous men. Not just any man. A fabulous man who can read!

Okay, so I don’t know if this really works but it had to make the list. Yes, I like men who can read! It is a turn-on huge deal, if there is any need for the handshake to go beyond the elbow, as Okonkwo in Things Fall Apart would say. Being good at making lies stories up as I breathe, having light bulb moments in traffic or when taking fat ass-splitting dumps in the mornings, but finding it difficult and time-consuming to write down these lovely inspirations (forget the writing pad and pen approach – it doesn’t work when I am in serious meeting with Mama Ngozi…na who wan stand up); it therefore becomes fashionably cute to talk about these bright ideas and stories straight from your celestial brain and have no evidence whatsoever in written words. If he asks why it has never made any of your writings (of course he has read some good writings from you), simply roll your eyes and name the most fathomless condition of all time for exotic species – Writer’s Block. That should keep him engrossed for a while.

  1. To refuse writing gigs for over-bearing, no-paying, rude original article hustlers.

I am hoping the person I coined this reason for doesn’t get to read this, not because I’m afraid of hurting feelings, but because he would get to know the real reason behind my all-time favorite excuse – I am having a “Writer’s Block” – and will continue to bug my life.

Really though, how can I write when I am in this deep black condition? A condition where I’m deaf to my surroundings like in August Rush but somehow orchestrate a masterpiece. A terrible condition where my eyes see nothing – not even the fashionably dressed dude who heavily drops weighty ke-le-be suffering from yellow fever on my right foot. This condition makes my nose lose its ability to smell scents and odor even when overloaded soak-aways are opened right before me and my tongue? It since expired the day I ate fermented rice and cow-piss stew from a food seller who cooks behind a “motel” after an awful episode of hunger bolt struck me – like Samson. Don’t get me started on my fingers; they experience some strange form of selective rigor motif when it comes near any form of keyboard or pen, when it knows I am about to write an article or a book. I am sorry, dear, but I can’t help that I have this condition – Writer’s Block.

P.S (Real Meaning – I don’t ever want to write another article for you ever-ever-ever again. You gete-it?)

  1. To enjoy my free time without feeling remorse about lying in bed curled up with a raunchy romantic novel and a large bowl of Ice Cream

And yes, I dey read “ashewo” novel. To you that turn your fat flat nose down on romantic erotic novels. Who cares if they had, have, will have sex or made love? Na why I wan read am bifor. I’m going to forget their soppy love scene soon enough; they get tiring after a while, plus I have got bills to pay. But then, who says we can’t go hot under our skirts once in a while, eh? Lol… So, where was I? Aahh! Writer’s Block.

So I flame up this myth, introduce it to my subconscious one time too many, and it automatically shuts down all forms of writing process. It also neutralizes guilt at wasting precious time on some other person’s writing rather than creating perhaps an award-winning article or story… God knows I need to win something soon, but then again, maybe this “Writer’s Block” is responsible. We all need a reason not to do what we ought to do.

 

Seriously though, there are times when a writer truly does not know enough on topics, doesn’t know where to start or how to end or continue an interesting story. Research most times helps, or you simply read some more! Get looking, keep asking opinions, keep looking. You never know when your next Einstein moment is going to be. Keep writing, second-guess yourself once in a while, praise yourself often too. Writing should not be hard work, but it is. It should be rewarding enough to buy a house but sadly, it is such a slow process, one is often tempted to rip off Chimamanda’s cover pages and just put yours. The truth is, you are no writer if you don’t write. Or perhaps a new title is urgently needed?

Pause.

Seasonal Writer

A seasonal writer: (n)… person who writes seasonally.

But from me to you, next time you feel like you have hit that imaginary brick wall, write on something else – not your usual genre. You’d be surprised what you’d come up with. It may not be perfect or nearly even good or totally the opposite of what you want to write. You could decide to write your thoughts as you think, perhaps write a hypothetical letter to that hypocritical cow person you want dead; just don’t save it in case you have to go to the police station to make a real statement.

Just write – anything.

Find something that really floats your boat or rides your keke. Travel to Osun State and go see a real deity and not just those ones they terrify us with in Yoruba movies; or you could check out Mubi in Adamawa State! I heard that’s a fertile ground for award-winning journalism, although I am quite confused as to how the orator for #WhatDoesBHWant has his location as UAE. Just an observation. Perhaps he is – was – in Mubi, but forgot to inform us or he skypes with a ‘local’ staff. Either way, what ‘they’ want is not what we want. If they could just stop abducting, forcefully marrying and raping our girls and women, perhaps we could understand what they want. It is disrespectful to keep abusing the hole place you came out from. For now, nothing matters except the safety of our women and the innocent lives lost in this senseless power tussle.

Phew!

How was that for a breakout from Writer’s Block, eh?

And most importantly what do you think this piece is? Satire? Or just another proof that I am actually experiencing an exotic writer’s condition known as “Writer’s Block” and just won’t accept it exists? I particularly like the latter option. It confirms the peculiarity of this irreversible condition. I should experience it more often. 😉

Written by Unen Ameji

Uneñ has written articles and books focusing on contemporary issues and old school romance. You can download her latest book, Love on the 25th, on the Okadabooks App available in Playstore. She tweets as @UnenAmeji on twitter.


About shakespeareanwalter

Walt Shakes(@Walt_Shakes) is an award-winning Nigerian writer, poet and veteran blogger. He is a lover of the written word. the faint whiff of nature, the flashing vista of movies, the warmth of companionship and the happy sound of laughter.

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4 comments

  1. ‘We all need a reason not to do what we ought to do.” this line got to me… excellent article!

  2. Hmm!
    This sure is a classic. Fortunate to have flipped my eyes through.
    #SeasonalWriter : that person is certainly not me.

  3. Hmmn, I think I got a bit of *reader’s block* when reading and I’m not sure I read through to the end but this but got me laughing, ‘whether you are comfortable or impressed with what you have written, you should keep writing. After all, no be all the time puff-puff dey dey golden brown’

    +

  4. Thanks for the posting Walter. ..appreciate! Thanks guys….for reading and commenting. .

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