Get your club out!

“You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club,” said Jack London, an American short-story writer and novelist of the early 1900s. There I was,  a few hours ago waiting for the needed inspiration to somehow dawn on me and help me come up with an article that could end world hunger, create better housing in slum areas or something life changing. Inspiration wasn’t forthcoming, so I switched to the “club approach” which also didn’t work very well.

I’m not sure what exactly won the war over my writing, if at all there was a winning. Writing is a wearisome task. Writers are always faced with the challenge of writing new material. As if that’s not hard enough, they may have to write about mundane topics like relationships or Barrack Obama and end up racking their brains for days (or even months) searching for something that has never been said about these topics before. Then there’s the writer’s worst nemesis, according to me, Writer’s Block.

After reading some of the articles in our local dailies and magazines, it seems to me that the youth (who largely constitute these writers) are being faced by lack of inspiration for writing. I can’t remember when I last came across a piece of writing that, and I lack the words to say exactly what I mean here, to say the least blew my mind. Consequently, I feel there’s a large number of youth out there, including yours truly, who are being faced by lack of writing inspiration, which I mostly refer to as Writer’s Block.

Writer’s block is like a recurring disease that you never get completely cured of. This article may for the most part be a result of this ‘disease’. For me it counts as a contemporary social issue, seeing that it affects many youthful writers of my day. So address it I shall. Writer’s Block is actually more serious than you may think and has been found to be closely related to depression and anxiety, according to neurologist and author of The Midnight Disease: The Drive to Write, Writer’s Block, and The Creative Brain, Alice Weaver Flaherty.

There are chronic cases of Writer’s Block, considering the case of Henry Roth, another American novelist and short story writer, who suffered from it for sixty years. It was caused by unwillingness to solve past problems and depression. What I’m trying to say here in so many words is that if you find you are suffering from what you will probably think is a case of chronic Writer’s Block (till you read the story of Henry Roth), you should evaluate yourself. There may be underlying issues that may be troubling you inwardly and causing you to lack inspiration for writing and well, other things in life.

Away from chronic cases of Writer’s Block, here are four simple causes of it given by writing-world.com. Writers are sometimes not ready to write. You may not know what you want to write about at times, which means you are not ready to write yet. Writers are sometimes also afraid to write as a result of various factors including comparing themselves with other great writers. Thirdly, writers often try to compose in their heads and fail to go through the stages of effective writing that are prewriting, planning, composing, editing, and proof reading. Lastly, writers sometimes start in the wrong place. You don’t always have to struggle with the first sentence. You can start elsewhere and work on your first sentence when you have the rest of your work. This doesn’t necessarily mean that starting with the first sentence is wrong.

All is however not lost. You probably expected this last paragraph to give you some workable solutions, to your “chronic problem”, and so I shall not go against writing norms. Writer’s Block does have a cure. Cures, to be more accurate. Some will leave you shaking your head at their absurdness. You may be well aware of others, like taking a break from your computer or writing station to get your thoughts in order, or going for a walk. There’s one suggested by Merlin Mann on his blog 43folders.com which I found quite hilarious- explain to a stuffed animal or cardboard cut out what you’re really trying to say. There’s also the very commonly used free writing approach, where you sit down and write anything that comes to mind. It would not be possible for me to exhaust the numerous remedies available. You should nonetheless know that Writer’s Block happens to the best of us, and should thus not beat yourself up over it. Inspiration is, after all, what you should be going after with a club, at least according to Jack London.

Note:
This was part of my final project from my Magazine and Feature Writing class. I decided to post it here because:
1. Writer’s Block is not cool. It took me roughly three hours to write this, after racking my brains for a looong time…then at the 11.5th hour, I saw a bright white light…that turned out to be a passing car…then after a while, I decided to write about Writer’s Block.
2. I want to look like I’m doing something with my blog.
3. Lists are cool :D…I’m not really making any point here.

Note (2): It was in 2008 when Obamamania was all the rage, hence the reference.

A quick, simple meal for the busy campus student, the guy who just moved out, and the girl who…uh…has better stuff to do? :|

My alarm usually went off at 7.30 a.m. but there were a lot of times that I remember making great use of the snooze button, and waking up at 8.30; never mind that I had an 8.45 class. I would run around trying to get ready, miss breakfast and sit in 3 hour classes with my stomach noisily grumbling about all the meals it had been denied in its lifetime.

Before I knew it, it was 4 p.m. and a coke was the only thing I had to ‘eat’ the whole day. That was life for me when I moved to the self-catering hostels of our campus and realized that cooking for myself and juggling my busy schedule would be quite a challenge. I had to learn the art of cooking simple but yummy meals. The ‘smokie stew’ was something of a delicacy for the residents of the self-catering hostels. It wasn’t really a stew, but the name stuck anyway.

It is quite easy to make and will come in handy many times. All you need is pasta (spaghetti, macaroni or whichever type you prefer), two smokies, an onion, two cloves of garlic (optional), two green peppers (pilipili hoho) two tomatoes, and whatever kind of seasoning you like whether it’s black pepper or tumeric or rosemary, the choice is yours. Seasoning is also optional though.

Usually I placed my sufuria on the gas cooker, poured a little cooking oil then turned the music on while I waited for it to heat up. At this point I had chopped up the onions, garlic, peppers, tomatoes and smokies into little pieces and placed the pasta in boiling water in a separate sufuria.

Bobbing my head to the blaring music from my phone, I fried the onions, garlic, and green peppers for five minutes before adding the tomatoes, and the smokies three or so minutes later. Every time I added a new ingredient, I would mix it up with the rest. Salt and seasoning followed and I let the smokies cook for three to four minutes.
I would then drain water from the now cooked pasta then pour into the smokie mixture. After this, all that is required is mixing everything up with the pasta and letting it cook for two to three minutes and voila, you have a very tasty meal in less than twenty minutes.

I would always have this exquisite meal with spinach. You may make a face and turn up your nose but green vegetables are very essential in your diet. Also, your mom will be impressed that you’re eating your greens. Spinach is very tasty when well cooked. I would buy it already washed and cut up (remember we’re trying to save time). Fry onions for two minutes and add the spinach and a little salt. Mix them up and cook for five to six minutes and you have a little more health and colour in your meal.
To make the meal tastier, you could grate cheese on it, add some ketchup, or add fresh avocado to it. The cooking experience can be made more interesting by dancing, and singing along to your favourite music with the wooden spoon as your ‘mic’.

Note:

1.    Any other type of processed meat (brawn, sausage etc) can be used in place of the smokie.

2.    This meal serves one. You can increase the proportions as you see fit if you’re cooking for more people.

3.    My  book ‘Quick, simple meals for the busy campus student, the guy who just moved out, and the girl who…uh…has better stuff to do?’ is in selected stores. Hurry, while stocks last. Comes with free DVD, music CD of fun songs to listen to while cooking, and a free wooden spoon. I will be having a book signing….Ok none of that stuff is true. I wish! : D