Wednesday, May 06, 2009


Writers block Some weeks ago I promised a colleague I would work on filling the gaps in some joint notes we had made which are intended to metamorphose into an academic paper. Since then, I've visited the Google Document four or five times, without success. I simply can't bring myself to add anything. I don't believe in writer's block, I believe in slugging it out with a blank screen until my eyes bleed and eventually the words come. I believe in Don't get it right, get it written.

For whatever reason, it's not happening this time. Of course, as a writer, I have plenty of excuses. The main one is that I've covered this material so many times (grant applications, internal reports, blog posts) that I simply can't bring myself to go over it again, even though it's never been written up for a formal publication. But I'm also wondering if microchunking has finally got to me. I find all the Secret Squirrel stuff associated with formal academic publication intensely demotivating these days. What's missing? Conversational cues. Comments. Questions and answers. The silence when I try to write this paper is deafening, unlike the collegiate chatter I have in my head when I'm blogging.

So I'm looking for ideas of how I can get over this. The main one I've had so far is to expand the existing notes by pretending that I'm writing a series of blog posts. (I did consider creating a dedicated Twitter account and twittering the draft manuscript via a hashtag, but at present I'm holding that idea in reserve in case the blogging approach fails).

So, have you found yourself in this situation, and if you have - what did you do about it?