The University of Saskatchewan’s main campus is situated on Treaty 6 Territory and the Homeland of the Métis.

My battle against a blinking cursor

By in Opinions
Lousy modern technology... I wish I could crumple up my laptop.
You pump yourself up, telling yourself you are going to crush this paper. This paper is going to be your bitch. You are confident, self-assured. You can do this! You are an intelligent university student, after all.

But when the time comes, when you sit down in front of your computer to make the magic happen — nothing. All that stares back at you is the depressing emptiness of the white page, not the groundbreaking, earth-shattering ideas that you expected. The page is calling out to be written upon, it longs for words, for keystrokes or ink stains.

It’s not long before your entire brain is frozen in a state of steadfast emptiness. You can almost hear the tumbleweeds rolling through your skull at that very moment. It’s not long before you are spiralling head first into a never-ending pit of despair, pulling your hair out in frustration, verging on tears of anger.

But, you are not alone. More common than the common cold, more terrifying than the flesh eating virus and more of a turn-off than an STI is the most dreaded plague that can hit a university student: writer’s block. It can strike at any time, anywhere and no one is immune from its mind-numbing wrath.

There are many strategies for how to beat the dreaded affliction but like a bacteria it only seems to multiply. And that’s what makes writer’s block so terrible: there is no over-the-counter cure.

You can’t pop a pill and be done with it and you can’t sweat it out. You can try to wait it out but when it will end, one never knows. They say that necessity is the mother of invention but the more that clock keeps ticking and the closer you come to that inevitable deadline, the more hopeless your situation becomes. The only thing that can be done is to confront it head on.

As a writer I have had many bouts of writer’s block and more often than not I come out of the ring battered and bruised. I can not count the hours I spent banging my head against a wall, waiting for ideas to fall out — yet they never do.

My battle with writer’s block usually follows the same pattern.

Sit down in front of computer. Stare blankly at screen. Realize I need inspiration. Think about where I can get inspiration.

The obvious answer: the Internet, duh.

Go on the Internet and inevitably get distracted. Watch an entire ballet. Do I even like ballet? Dance around my house before realizing I can’t dance. Realize I just wasted three hours doing absolutely nothing. Also realize that I am hungry. Can’t think on an empty stomach. Make an entire three course meal. Still nothing. Can’t think on a full stomach either. Stare out the window. Think I can get ideas by reading what other people have to say. Read things. Realize I suck at writing and can never be as good as these people.

But, this is where the breakthrough comes. This is when I realize that of course I’m not as good a writer as some other people! I’m not getting paid to write; I’m paying to write.

Actually, I’m paying a lot to write. And that means I can write whatever I want. That means if I really want to, I can write a 10-page paper on drunken injuries and how they are best avoided or remedied — complete with pictures. Or I can write my life story, beginning with the day I realized my choice of major will most likely lead to a career at Starbucks.

Of course, I won’t do this. I’ll settle on a more mundane, expected topic that will hopefully lead to a grade that won’t garner looks of scorn from my bill-footing parents.


Photo: photosteve101/Flicker

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