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The Act of Writing

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This blank piece of paper mocks me.

My mind remains frozen with a severe case of writer’s block.

Writing poses a funny dilemma. I always sit there, with a blank piece of paper in front of me. Ideas flash through my head like lightning – bright and brilliant, yet so quick that I can never quite grasp them as they flash. So finally, after enduring anywhere from five to fifty minutes of this lightning storm, I pinpoint a single idea – the brightest flash of light.

An opening sentence hits me. The perfect phrasing of an effective attention getter. The easy part: the text message to the topic’s snail mail. Everyone knows that the easiest part of a project is starting it; it’s following through with that initial idea and sticking with it until the end that creates difficulty.

And so once I receive that text message, I’m off. Phrases come to me in short little spurts. One moment, I’m scribbling as fast as I can, my hand struggling to keep up with my mind. Merely moments later and I’m turning over various sentences, phrases, and words in my mind slowly and carefully, the end of my pen returning over and over to my mouth as I gaze off into space, fully absorbed in choosing just the right combination of words to portray the thoughts that consume me.

When I extract a solid topic, I always have a basic idea of how the entire outline will look and sound. It’s a blueprint of sorts, sketching out what concepts will initiate, and which ideas will follow those. However, as I’m absorbed in the writing process, busy racking my mind for synonyms or debating the importance of a semi-colon, that initial outline only become fuzzy, jumbled and crossed out, to the point that I don’t even recognize it halfway through the essay. My pen takes me where it wants to go. I can try to control it; yet, ultimately it’s the one doing the composing. My paper takes many twists and turns and in the end, rather than resembling an identical twin of my outline, it appears to be more like a distant cousin, if that.

Slowly but surely, that blank page fills up, much like this one has. It looks as if someone is pouring a thick syrup upside down into a cup, filling the top first and slowly spreading to the bottom. My frozen brain is slowly melting, as my writing mimics water poured into the glass that is my paper. My handwriting now adorns that once blank page, neat at first, then progressively getting sloppier and sloppier as my hand screams of cramping. Dark blobs mask words that weren’t quite right and arrows often direct the reader on a mysterious treasure hunt, through the margins, in between sentences, or squished at the bottom of the page, never quite knowing where the end is and if it should ever be met.

And finally, I’ve arrived. Reached my destination. The page is full. The tables have turned. While I once sat there in a state of desperation, near resignation to the fact that the paper will forever be blank, I now triumphantly hold in my hands a completed two pages. I conquered my writer’s block; I avoided the pitfalls of repetition and redundancy. The paper that once mocked me is now cowering in fear, furiously waving a little white flag. For now, I am the one laughing at that once crisp, white, clean sheet of paper.





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