A circuit-board-inspired drawing of a human brain

The Writing Block

I’ve been having a lot of trouble this weekend. I’m so close to finishing a chapter that it’s really embarrassing that I can’t do it. It’s awful.

I spend a lot of time, believe it or not, thinking about Alzheimer’s disease. My grandmother suffered through it and I was in the house when her body finally stopped working, even though her mind hadn’t been around for years. I watched as she became less and less like herself and was able to do fewer and fewer things that she had always loved to do, and I worry a good share about myself. Alzheimer’s, as I understand it, is more likely to occur within families, even if medical researchers aren’t 100% sure why.

A lot of the process of writing the dissertation has been an exercise in me fighting against the idea that I’ve simply lost the ability to write. I know that everyone who reads my stuff says otherwise, but I never used to struggle with things the way that I struggle with them now. Hell, I used to be able to toss off a 5-page paper in two hours. Now, quite literally, it’s taking me a week to get that five pages down. It’s not that I don’t know the stuff or that I’m trying too hard, either. I’m doing all the little tricks to make sure that I’m being in the moment when I’m writing and I’m staying cognizant of the purpose for my writing.

I just can’t seem to do it.

This blog has been good for some of that. I’ve been writing this post for about three minutes now and I’ve written more in that three minutes than in the past two days. To top that off, I’m going to end up keeping more than 30% of this, which is not at all a guarantee when it comes to the diss work I’ve done in the last week.

What the hell is wrong with me? I know it’s not just me; there are lots of people having this issue, but I have to think that it’s like learning to dance: not only are there a lot of reasons to do it, there are a lot of ways to get there, and no one does it quite the same way. The difference here is that I’m not learning to dance; I’m un-learning how to write, and I’m actively trying to stop doing that.

So far, the best approach has been “Hit it again tomorrow.” The problem is that my time is getting very, very short. I need to finish this. I need to finish it now.

I don’t have time to forget how to write.

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