Apr 19, 2024, 06:28AM

Got Nothing

Hitting a bank of writer's block and perservering through it.

Musil unions.jpg?ixlib=rails 2.1

Not including getting paid by the football players in high school to write their English papers (which would make it 40), I’ve been a professional writer for 30 years, producing well over 1000 paid articles—newspaper and magazine articles, books, boring bank annual reports, you name it; whatever gets me paid by the word to pay the rent.

Weekly writing deadlines aren’t easy. Under normal circumstances, I have a working list of topics and I grab something and flesh it out. Writing, since I was a kid, has come naturally to me, and I’m lucky to have been able to get paid for it—if not a decent living wage, at least a little money to help make ends meet over the years.

But occasionally, the deadline looms and I land in the dreaded “got nothing” zone. Writer’s block is defined as “the inability to begin or continue writing for reasons other than a lack of basic skill or commitment” and that sounds depressing: like I can tell an editor or publisher “Sorry I don’t have my piece.. for reasons.”

Last night I was high on my pot gummy watching the new Netflix stalker series Baby Reindeer but I fell asleep and didn’t finish it (so I couldn’t write about that), but before I did, I contacted readers on Instagram to see if they had ideas. I got some responses from the form generator.

“Chicken soup.” The fact that my mom’s “recipe” is one of three things I know how to cook? I couldn’t stretch it to 600 words—it’s carrots, onion, celery and chicken, the end. Next!

“Mother-daughter relationships.” This is the opposite of chicken-soup problem. I raised three women (one turns 30 this week) and they’re all amazing and I’ve written stories about them in the past and despite that, I still have pretty cool relationships with all three, but writing about that topic in general is the subject of countless books. Also, I first started therapy when I found out I was pregnant for the reason of some of those topics. What advice would I give to new moms? Don’t overdo it. I’m a free range versus helicopter mom and it worked out (I might learn to make more than chicken soup and cheesesteaks), but if you can break some of the cycles of generational trauma, you’re doing okay.

“Salary of Caitlin Clark, other gender inequity issues.” I did post about Clark’s gender pay gap outrage but as a weekly columnist I don’t generally write about current topics because often by the time my piece comes out on Fridays, issues have been well-covered by well-paid journalists with high readerships. I will say that the fact that Clark’s entire team gets paid less than one NBA player after the viewership of her game was higher than the men’s game is outrageous. I have faith that she’s the catalyst the women’s sport needed, and that I’m glad to see Clark is close to an 8-figure deal with Nike and love the idea of young women athletes wearing her signature shoes. It’s about time the money starts showing up for women athletes, and women in general; fuck the pay gap—too many years doing every goddamn thing from raising families to shattering glass ceilings.

I considered writing about how my son hit his first homer this week but there’s no way I could drag that out into a whole article, thought about a sad first girlfriend breakup or dark mental health piece, but I have a sea glass show this weekend and those were too heavy. Then I thought about a light song playlist, but now I met my word count so I can save those ideas.


Register or Login to leave a comment