Tag Archives: writers block

Living in an Angsta’s Paradise

I have officially become a tortured artist.

I had never believed in that crap before.  To me, the “tortured artist” was an anachronistic idea that allowed angst-ridden weirdo-artists to swath themselves in alcohol, drugs, and sex addiction.  Were their lives really that hard?  I doubted it.  

Then, I moved out to LA in my vain attempt to break into the writing world.  In all my vanity, I  had decided that it would take me two years, tops, to break into the TV writing biz, get on a show, convince network execs to give me a deal, and then write comfortably from the cold, unhappy winters of the East Coast, corrupting the minds of the 18-49 demo with intellectualized, comedic, drivel. 

I’m only three months in, but I’m already behind on my very-unrealistic two-year plan.

And so, every afternoon, as I toil through a corporate job which pays the bill but doesn’t get me any closer to the so-called “dream” of writing, I have the following (highly-annoying) conversation with myself:

OK, let’s set the stage for this little discussion.  Topic: my quarterlife crisis.  Yes, again.  Fine, this isn’t really a quarterlife crisis, unless I live to 100 – so if you want, we can probably call it a 30%-life crisis.  Well… then again, by the time I die, everyone will be living past 100 (hey, hey, healthcare).  That would make for a really long Happy-Birthday-from-Smuckers segment on the Today Show. Network television will be gone by then anyway.  Okay.  Get back on track.  We’ll call it a quarterlife crisis.  Although, “crisis” is much too overdramatic: perhaps it’s more of a “dilemma”?

Back to my dilemma.  Not that I’m freaking out, but… What am I doing here?  Am I doing the right thing?  If I want to write, shouldn’t I just quit my job and write?  But, it’s good to have a job.  And it’s not like I’m sitting on an unlimited pile of money.  Could there be alternative options, between this corporate life and the peripatetic, never-employed existence as a writer? (Is it weird that of all the writers I’ve met, 99% are men who wear Coke bottle glasses? Not even exaggerating).  Would I be better suited for advertising / journalism / magazine editing / or even academia? Should I settle on an existence that could take me back to the East Coast? Because although I could kick it in LA for 2 years, I’m not sure how I’ll feel about it after that.

Maybe I should get an MFA.  Or an MBA.  Or maybe I should just start a routine of lying in fetal position every few hours to facilitate the osmotic transfer of ideas?  My friends all have legitimate jobs with workable hours and fat salaries and the promise of steady employment.  I could do that too, if I wanted.  But I don’t.  Or do I?  Maybe I just don’t know what I want.  (Heightened panic.)  What am I doing with my life??!?

Let’s watch Where Are They Now? Clips from The Biggest Loser.  That makes me feel better.  At least I’m not on the verge of a hypoglycemic coma.

I ate six cookies today.  Maybe I am…

Let’s get to the denouement.  I’m extraordinarily lucky.  I have options.  That might not seem like a good thing now, but in the long run, it is.  I just need to make up my mind and choose… choose the path I want to go down… — Why can’t I do it all??!?! — Calm down, crazy.  Keep doing what you’re doing.  Stay in your job, and continue to write on the side.  — Even if I’m only writing educational finance parodies to ‘80s music??? — Sure.  Because, one day, you’ll have a breakthrough.  And if not, then at least you’ve tried, and you won’t ever regret it.

— Are you sure I won’t regret not selling out earlier?  Because the time value of money says I’ll regret it. —

You nerd.

Yeah, you’re right.

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Blaming Blogger’s Block

Over the past few weeks, I have endured a severe case of writer’s block – or, to be more specific, blogger’s block.  Blogger’s block is the over-alliterated, ugly stepsister to writer’s block, in which a normally-loquacious blah-ger can’t find anything to blah about.  

The recommended “cures” for writer’s block (literary exercises, meditating, or—from one website—writing down “Remember, We Die” on a post-it note) don’t apply to bloggers.  Whereas a writer is ostensibly producing three-course meals of high-quality, literary material, a blogger is just churning out frozen pizzas: it has to be short, quick, and immediately satisfying.  Essentially, it has to be Delonte West.  

Therefore, blogger’s block is rare.  There is almost always a topic in which we can provide our most-unnecessary commentary.  On this blog, I’ve written about bathrooms, napping, and aliens — all topics that are naturally top-of-mind in the blah universe.  Yet, I’m finally at a point where I feel that I’ve exhausted all original thoughts in my head. Within the vastly-narrowed expanse from my left ear to my right, there is nothing remaining that can be easily snippeted into a blog post.

I recognize that blogger’s block is just a phase.  We all have those moments when we are temporarily unable to perform.  With the help of writing exercises, alcohol, or low doses of Cialis, we’re usually able to overcome these execution issues.  Only on rare instances do we Knoblauch ourselves into an ignominious oblivion, never able to regain our past glory.

But human beings are like Pringles. Once we start having these blocks of impotency, we’ll never stop. These frustrating moments will just come to us intermittently, shamefully, as if we’re riding an unpredictably ornery donkey that kicks us off every once in a while. We’d almost rather be Knoblauch – at least we’ll have accepted that we just can’t cut it anymore.

Still, we try. No matter how ugly, terrible, or incomprehensible the result, we try. We take ‘The Little Engine That Could’ and put its picture right up next to our “Remember, We Die” post-it note.  So therefore, to combat my blogger’s block, I am blogging about it.  I am trying.  This, my friends, is the lowest of the low, but hopefully it will re-inspire me to produce some more lowbrow, low-quality, quick and dirty blog posts.

And if that doesn’t work, then I guess I’ll just start taking drugs.

 

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Optimizing Sleep Time at Work

Over the past few months, writing this blog on a daily basis has been fun, enlightening, and utterly exhausting.  There are days when the writing is easy, but also days when it is not.  I usually start writing only after I’ve gotten home from work, eaten, and watched my favorite trashy TV shows: most of the time, this is well after 11 pm.  Once I start writing, I must deal with frequent writer’s block and the distraction of Food Network’s late-night programming.  Thus, I’m often still awake past 2 am, trying to find pictures of aliens that resemble Joan Rivers’ face, while learning about how raisins are made on Unwrapped.

Needless to say, sleeping is a luxury, and I’m sure that I’m not the only insomniac with a late-night affinity for Marc Summers.  But, I’ve made it my pre-New Year’s resolution to start sleeping more, whenever I can get it.  It may be at  home, at work, or at dinner with friends, but I’m going to get my 8 hours of sleep each night.  And given that the majority of my day is spent at work, I need some creative ways to pull some shut-eye at the office…

Here are some techniques that have been recommended to me by others:

  • Bathroom naps: Stake out the biggest stall, put down a toilet seat cover, and find a roll of Charmin to rest your head on.
    • Pros: You can always blame your extended absence on food poisoning, or, if you are a woman, “female matters”.
    • Cons: You really don’t want to experience the full range of bodily functions that may occur during 20 minutes in the workplace bathroom.  After-lunch bathroom naps are definitely not recommended.
  • Car naps: Curl up in the back seat of your car and sleep off an hour… or two.
    • Pros: Unlike the bathroom stall, at least you know all the business that has gone down in your back seat.
    • Cons: Death.  If you’re parked in a garage, there’s always the slight chance that you could suffer carbon monoxide poisoning and die.  And that would be a rather embarrassing way to go.
  • Under your desk naps: Set up some paper stacks to serve as pillows, and climb on under there.
    • Pros: Minimal effort; you don’t have to walk down the hall to the bathroom, or make a trip to the parking garage.  Instead, your nap space is right in front of you.
    • Cons: Highest likelihood of getting caught, and unless you’re built like a Chinese gymnast, it may get a little uncomfortable down there.

My recommendation?  Even with high gastronomic activity in adjacent stalls, I think that bathroom naps offer the best work-sleep that you can get.  It’s mostly quiet, convenient, and relatively comfortable–in the right position, it’s like sleeping on the window seat of a plane.  Plus, the toxins in the bathroom are probably less dangerous than the ones in the parking garage.  And with the size of the stall, there’s always the possibility of upgrading your nap space with a twin-size Aerobed.

So, given that I’m pontificating about bathroom spaces (…again), I guess you can tell how severe my writer’s block was tonight.  Yup, it’s getting pretty late…  I’m definitely bringing in a travel pillow tomorrow, to go along with my bad case of “food poisoning.”

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