One Thousand Words on Slumping

I’ve hit a slump.

I can’t think of anything to write about. I start a post and then drift off to surf the web. I read Facebook and articles about the Wall Street protests and look at funny pictures of cats. The next thing I know, I’ve lost forty five minutes doing nothing and the cursor is blinking at me from an empty page.

Last night I wrote fiction, but it was like pulling teeth. Every word was a struggle. And by the end I was so sleepy that I barely read it before posting. My writing is boring even me.

Tonight I decided I was going to write about the book I’m reading, “I Think I Love You” by Allison Pearson and my long ago crush on pop singer Shaun Cassidy.

I was head over heels in love with him, so I should have more than one thousand words on the topic.

But two hundred words in, I had wandered away to check Twitter and didn’t feel like going back.

I just can’t concentrate on what I am writing. But I’m so disappointed in myself if I don’t write one thousand words every day that I try to force myself to do it anyway. And then I write total crap.

I hate how streaky I am with this project. For weeks at a time, posts come effortlessly. I’m in the groove, topics just come to me and the thousand words seem to write themselves.

Then there are times like this, where I think about stopping completely. But I don’t want to stop. Doing this, and sticking to it, have become very important to me. I just want to have something to say every night.

Maybe part of the problem is that I don’t tend to have strong opinions about things. Or if I do, I keep them to myself. I’m not controversial or confrontational.

I’ve thought about trying to fake it. I read the newspaper looking for current event that I can pretend to be indignant about. Or some topic that I can take a phony stand on, preferable one where I’m supporting the unpopular opinion.

But I’m not good at faking passion for something I don’t really care about.

I was on the debate team in high school and I sucked. I thought it would be right up my alley, all that research and those organized index cards at my fingertips. But I could never get excited enough about a topic that meant nothing to me to argue about it effectively.

And, if I’m remembering correctly, you never knew if you were going to be arguing the affirmative or the negative, so if I was lucky enough to actually have a topic I believed in, I might find myself having to argue the other side. I was exceptionally bad when that happened.

My debating career wasn’t helped by the fact that I could never talk long enough.

Over the years I’ve learned that I tend to shorten speeches when I make them. I talk quickly and never go into as much detail as I originally planned. So if I need to talk for five minutes, I better have at least ten minutes of material ready or I’ll be done way too early.

The same thing happens when I’m sharing an anecdote with friends. I skip over all the details and get to the point too quickly.

But I didn’t know that about myself back in high school. When you’re presenting a constructive argument you had to talk for something like eight minutes. The first time I debated, I got up and had presented my entire argument in less than two minutes.

It’s not surprising that our team lost that debate.

At the time I thought I was so brief because the other team had arrived with suitcases full of material and I was intimidated. But now I know that I just condense, it’s my public speaking MO.

As bad as I am at getting behind a cause I don’t care about, I’m even worse at being controversial.

I’m pretty liberal, but I live in a liberal part of the country so my opinions aren’t very shocking. I supposed they might be if I moved to a conservative, Republican state. Maybe I should consider doing that to get my writing juices flowing… nah.

Our local newspaper has a columnist who is an expert at getting people up in arms. His name is even used as a verb. If he writes about you in his column, you’ve been “Kenyonized.”

My mother worked for the newspaper for thirty years, so the columnist is a friend of hers. He also attended my alma mater and recommended to my mom that I check it out when I was looking at colleges. I like him and I recognize that he is paid to get people talking, so his columns make me laugh. And people’s reactions to his columns make me laugh even harder.

I’m one of the few that think it’s funny, though. You just have to mention the guy’s name and people get worked up. Opinions are formed based on his columns, usually in opposition to his opinion, and he had got to be the most referenced writer in that newspaper’s history.

He has raised stirring up controversy to an art form. I wonder if he gives lessons.

Until I get him to each me the finer points of the Kenyon method, I’ll have to search for another solution to my writing slump.

I’m taking a writing workshop on Friday night, so I’m hoping that will jump start me into another writing jag. It’s a workshop where you write from prompts, so maybe I can get some topic ideas at the very least.

And maybe I should start revisiting that list of topics my mother selected for me when I began this project in May. I thought I was past needing them, but anything is better than having nothing to write about at all.


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