Overcoming the Dreaded Writer's Block
By Mikayla Bean
I looked up at my foe, eyes still unfocused from hitting it head on for what felt like the hundredth time. There it stood, big and stupid, laughing down at me. The Writer’s Block. It’s big ugly mug not only laughing at me but also hundreds of other writers who were stuck in the Land of No Ideas.
It didn’t hurt any less no matter how many times I tried to go through it. I rubbed my head where a lump was starting to form. This was definitely my worst idea. Trust me, I’ve tried other ways besides running at it like a bull, horns down sprinting as fast as I could toward it.
My first attempt was a ladder. You would think with a big enough ladder you could simply climb over the Block, but I was utterly mistaken. The climb was going really well until a rung snapped about halfway up and I came hurtling toward the ground at what seemed like the speed of light. I might have even caught fire slightly from the fall. My shirt was singed a little and I smelled like smoke and failure. Slinking back to my desk, I flopped into the seat and sat for what felt like another eternity until I hatched a brilliant plan.
A trampoline! What a magnificent and ingenious idea! I mentally patted myself on the back and clicked my heels together in celebration as I searched the Land of No Ideas for other writers who could help me build the trampoline to get me over the Block and over to the coveted Other Side.
I had only heard rumors and speculation of the Other Side. It was more beautiful than I could ever dream: the place where ideas flowed like water and every day was the beginning of a brand new story and those stories that were made would be always remembered for as long as Man was on Earth. I sighed at the idea of the Other Side as I had gathered a handful of other writers to start construction and eventually try and double-bounce me over. It was the perfect plan. Foolproof.
Or at least I thought it was.
Picture this: a brand spanking new trampoline with the space to fit more writers than I could think of or count. The nylon was so black it looked like a ginormous hole that stretched for miles. I wasn’t going to be greedy and keep the trampoline for myself. Duh. I just needed a few hands to help get me there. Here was my plan: if we all bounced together, I would eventually time it perfect to where I would use the energy/bounce of the others to rocket myself high enough to reach the edge and climb over to victory. Simple and brilliant if I do say so myself.
Attempt number one was almost a success. I finally timed it just right and sky rocketed up above the clouds and for a split second I could see the Other Side. I gasped when I saw the flowing rivers and greenery that it was covered in. It was so beautiful. During that time I got distracted, and I forgot to grab onto the edge of the Block. I felt as if I paused in midair, looking at the camera like Wylie Coyote would do before plummeting back to Earth, cartwheeling all the way down. I might’ve even heard the cartoon whistle as I fell.
Still reeling from the fall, I threw my torso up out of the indent shaped like my body to eventually rest my forearms to see the reaction from my peers. I tried to give them an apologetic half smile and a shoulder shrug. They weren’t impressed and looked really irritated to say the least. Eventually they all walked away, working on their own projects to get over the Block, muttering and shaking their heads as they went.
Embarrassed, I pulled myself up off the ground and sat back down on my desk. I drummed my fingers against the desktop until I thought of another plan.
Maybe if I couldn’t go over it, I could go around it? Surely it couldn’t be that long of a walk. All alone, I set off on the trek to find the edge of the Block with just my walking stick and my lack of thoughts (this is why I was over here after all). I kicked at a couple rocks as I trudged over the dismal landscape that was mostly gray and gloomy. Dirt and other sand-like material made up the terrain behind the Block and it perfectly reflected what every writer felt: self-doubting, unworthy, and lost.
I didn’t even feel like I belonged anywhere. I didn’t even feel like I belonged on this dismal side of writing. I knew I would never make it over to the Other Side, but my mom taught me better than to just quit. After half a day of walking, the Block still stretched miles and miles as far as my eyes could make out. I threw down my walking stick in fury. There was no way I was going to find the edge of this damn thing! I felt my eyes well up with tears of anger as I picked up the stick once more and started my way back to where I started, defeated again.
I sat in the dirt, legs spread out to either side like a child as I drew in the dirt in front of me. This is where I came to think, but my mind felt like more like a television with no signal: black, white, and fuzzy. A shadow cast over me, blocking out the sun. I looked up to see what could only have been a fellow writer as I hadn’t seen him before over on this side of the Block. I had been here for what felt like an eternity so I had no idea as to why I hadn’t seen him before.
“You’re stuck, huh?” he said as he smiled down at me.
“Uh, yeah. I think that’s pretty apparent since that’s everyone’s story over here.” I rolled my eyes as I looked back down to the ground again, continuing my drawing in the dirt.
“Well, I have something I would like to let you borrow for a while if you would be interested. You seem like you need it more than I do.”
I looked up to see a small hammer and chisel in his hands. They looked like something out of an archaeology kit. I burst out laughing, unable to contain myself.
“What the hell am I supposed to do with those?! They’re tiny!”
“Well,” the stranger trailed on, “they may be small, but as far as I know these are the only tools to get you through the Block. Now don’t get me wrong, it is not fast work, but if you have some patience and work hard, it’ll get you through it eventually.”
I looked closer at the tiny tools situated in the center of his still outstretched hand. They looked worn and old. Both tools had scratches and signs of age, but still they seemed to still be able to work, as far as I could tell.
“Well, since I don’t have any better ideas, I suppose I’ll take you up on your offer,” I sighed as I picked myself up off the ground and wiped the dirt off my pants. He smiled with his mouth but also his eyes like they held some sort of secret that I had no idea about.
“Excellent!” he exclaimed, “I’ll be off then just down the Block a ways if you have any questions. I suggest though that you pick a good spot on the Block that feels right and start to work. Like I said, it takes more time than you would think.”
He waved as he turned and walked away after placing the tools in my hand, slowly disappearing in the distance. I looked down at the hammer and chisel in my hands, wondering what I had gotten myself into.
Well, might as well get started I guess.
I found what I deemed to be a good spot on the Block. I planted my feet firmly into the dirt, raised the small chisel and whacked it with the laughable hammer. Tink!
An almost unnoticeable piece flew off the Block and landed on my shoe eventually rolling down to settle on the ground under me. I smiled. I had never seen this happen before!
Giddy with excitement and hope, I set to work with blinding speed: Tink! Tink! Tink! Tink!
Each minuscule piece crumbed off little by little as I struck the chisel. The small pieces formed a small mound between my feet. So, if you need me, I’ll be here with my tiny hammer and chisel, chipping away at the Block for what will probably feel like the rest of my life. But hey, at least you’ll know where to find me.