I despised high school.
It was a difficult time in my life. I was physically small, and extremely underweight. Difficulties at home, undiagnosed physical and mental ailments, and a generally poor attitude all contributed to the misery of my high school experience.
Aside from my few friends and teammates on the wrestling team, there was little I looked forward to when I went to school each morning. That ‘little’ consisted of the high school’s English Department.
I attended a private, all boys Catholic high school due to familial connections, and the teachers of the English Department were the balm to my teenage angst. Teachers like Mrs. Starrett allowed me the freedom of the classics wall-locker, where I could take whatever book I wanted to read so long as I brought it back (and I did, just as I followed her advice about holding off on reading Deliverance until I was older). Mr. Sudowsky injected humor into the mind-numbingly dull translations of the Aenid and Iliad that we read (long before Robert Fagles gifted us with his own translations). And, perhaps most importantly, Mr. Richard White taught me how to get through writer’s block.
Those of us who write all fear it. That terrible, hideous entity lurking like one of Lovecraft’s Elder Gods in the recesses of our minds. It causes us to doubt ourselves, and our own abilities. And Mr. White had one simple, elegant solution:
Write through it.
It doesn’t matter if you turn out four pages of schlock. Write through it.
Is your character as thin as the paper you’re writing on? It doesn’t matter, just write through it.
So that’s my advice to anyone out there who’s struggling. Write through it. Look at the table, describe it. Again and again and again. Hell is repetition, but it also makes you better.
So, if you have writer’s block, write through it.
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