I ran into a bout of shitty luck and it broke my process for writing. I was stuck. The first few months, I wrote nothing at all. I didn’t even try. I was empty inside. I’d given up on essays entirely.
I began scribbling notes and I found that committing to paper provided a renewed calling. I jotted and scrawled but the keyboard was still the Antichrist and my fairy godmother failed to pop out from the monitor, wave her magic wand and Shazam! A story was born.
I looked down at the crinkled clump of sticky notes resting on my desk. It was jargon. There was no structure, detail or scene, no hook or conclusion. Merely ideas, fragments of possibilities. I focused my eyes back on the cursor blinking directly in front of me.
Blink. Blink. Blink.
“Writer Contemplates Blog Shortly After Search for Niche Derails”
“You should write a blog”, a friend said to me during our regular Wednesday morning date at the coffee joint in the town square. “There’s no rhyme or reason in blogging, or structure. Bloggers just blog.”
“I’m a reporter. I write articles and cutlines everyday, but a blog? What would I write about? I’m certainly not qualified to give anyone life advice.”
And I’m not. I spend most of my days wearing flannel cat print pajamas, not because I’m lazy but because it’s comfortable. I sleep through the alarm clock because I’m lazy or really tired, or something. My idea of a tasty meal is raw broccoli with a side of cooked rice. This fact alone rules out a food theme.
I’m not that fascinating. Not to mention, I prefer to spend my mornings drinking coffee, petting cats and staring blankly into the roaring flames of the fireplace. I’m not down with the super, ultra, and ridiculously productive ‘before sunrise’ lifestyle, which is currently one of the hottest topics on the market, BTW.
“I need a niche and I’m certainly not super, ultra or ridiculously anything,”
“Are those faux diamond studded flamingo earmuffs you’re wearing?” He asked with a look of confusion glazed over his eyes. “I’d say you have ridiculous nailed.”
So my search for a niche began.
“Can I borrow your pen and paper?”
I scratched a quick list of my strong points, the easy stuff, the surface stuff and read it to him. “Cactus like relationship skills, stubborn, anti-political and a master at living inside of thousands of acres of corn. Also, I dig trenches. Oh, and there was that one time I built a solar generator and it exploded in the basement.”
“What? I thought you’re writing a list of your strong points?”
“That’s it,” I responded. “The list of things I suck at will be much longer, and no one was injured in the explosion unlike when I built a potato launcher and erupted spuds when it failed to release more than two feet from the barrel.”
“You’ll find your niche,” he said, confidently.
“Woman Struggles to Shift Creative Flow”
I’m not sure the digital world cares that I’ve covered 11 holiday concerts, two musicals and a Christmas pageant — Jesus Loves Me! ’Tis the season, after all. Or that I have nine days to become an expert of the Iowa Caucuses and I’ve named all of my asparagus plants in order of the alphabet. This is what swirled around my head as I went to type my very first blog post.
Not a single topic or idea appeared, or a sentence, or a word. My motivation, inspiration and creativity felt drained. Tapped out.
Blink. Blink. Blink.
I texted my friend, “Dude, can you add blogging to the list of things I suck at? Thanks.”
He replied: “Skip the niche and move onto the next phase.”
“Local Reporter Uncovers Evidence Indicating That Bloggers Do More Than Just Blog”
I opened a new tab to do a Google Search. I typed: Bloggers who blog about blogging. I was flooded with information.
I read an endless stream of anxiety inducing posts about marketing, social media management, email lists and branding, In fact, I’m impressed anyone can find the time to write inside so many requirements. That night, I learned there’s no such thing as bloggers. There’s only personas.
“I have to brand myself,” I told my friend the following week when we met for coffee again. “I don’t even know what that means, and I’ll need to start a YouTube channel too, or so I’ve read. I’m panicked. I just want to write and blogging is so very complicated.
He poured another cup, set the pot back down on the table and said, “Get a grip. You’re acting crazy.”
“A niche was the least of my problems.”
“Forget about this other stuff and jump to the part where you actually write something.”
“Queen of First Paragraphs Goes In For The Win”
A few more months passed and still nothing. Kaput. I was devastated, and unfathomably depressed, but the urge to write was still there. Execution was the area I lacked in.
Each day I’d think about what my friend had said to me. It played like a broken record. “Jump to the part where you actually write something.”
For nearly a year I believed if I wrote the story of that shitty bout of luck which led me here, I’d get past it and the faucet would start flowing again. I did eventually write it but the levee failed to break. I was still unable to convert words into prose. It ate away at me day and night until it finally reached it’s boiling point.
I got settled in front of my laptop prepared to write a masterpiece. By now, I had become a pro at ideas and the Queen of First Paragraphs, but nothing stuck. There wasn’t a spark of pathos nor a tingle of logos and each attempt proved a dead end.
‘Enough of this shit’, I told to myself. I’m a writer, and writers write! It’s what I do. I just need to do it. Really, it should be that easy.
I shift my focus back on the cursor.
Blink. Blink. Blink. Repeat.