I Have Absolutely No Idea What to Write

Iman Baber

I’ve been staring at three empty docs for the past hour.

Why won’t the words come out?

Right now, I’m drowning in the depths of the worst thing anyone could ever experience: the dreaded writer’s block. I can’t take it much longer.

And the fact that I’ve now got to finish three articles, each at least 700 words, in three weeks doesn’t really help.

Ok, you may be thinking, “Oh, come on, Iman. It really can’t be that bad”.

Oh yes it can be.

Right now, I’m in the midst of a crisis. A war. A great battle has ravaged the lands of my brain and left it desolate and dark.

The well of inspiration has dried up. The light of creativity has been shut off by the darkness of despair. The words, taunting me, dance on the tip of my tongue but never leap off and land on the paper.

And it’s not like I don’t know what to write. I know my goal. I know the story I want to tell. But the memories never materialize, the words never become solid, those cloud-thin ideas are blown away. The empty void grows more and more silent as my frustrated self bashes the keyboard, hoping for meaningful words to come out.

Why won’t it work?

Why can’t my brain figure out a way to articulate what I want to say? Why can’t my brain seem to wrap itself around an idea so clear? Why is it so difficult to find a new, refreshing way to say something? It is comparable to mining a single, sparkling diamond from a mountain of cold, dark stone.

Why can’t I make it? Are my shovels and axes now dull from repeatingly beating away at the same gray granite? I’ve already attempted moving around the mountain, but it is too large, too gargantuan to conquer.

But wait! I see a shimmer; a sparkle! Could it be? Could all this tedious, painstaking swinging finally pay off?

Excited, I write the words. I savor each one, typing one letter at a time.

And then I press enter.

Oh I have done it! I have conquered the mountain! I feel free and enlightened. My mouse moves weightlessly to the top corner of the page, and I confidently press “word count”.

And then my heart drops.

50 words? 50 measly, timid words? Out of 700? I still have to bear the torture of 650 more?

I’m thrashing, floundering; I’m drowning! Desperate, I scourge the Internet: news sites, blogs, and Ted Talks, looking for a lifeguard, a life-saving device, any sequence of words, a burst of inspiration to save me from my doom!

But nothing! There’s nothing there!

What am I going to do? I watch in the horror as the clock ticks another minute. 30 minutes gone, and nothing! I feel as though as I’ve lost my breath. I can’t think! I can’t think! My heart starts panicking, the pace quickens. I feel terrified as the page stares menacingly back at me. Daring me to write something. Threatening me to fill its empty lines.

But how? How can I write my story when I don’t know how to tell it? Aren’t I supposed to be a good writer? Didn’t I sign up for this?

I feel guilt now. Shouldn’t I have an endless tap of inspiration and creativity just flowing, nourishing all that it touches? Why am I doomed for this eternal stream to dry up so quickly?

My head is now throbbing, trying to probe an idea out of its empty void. The headache strengthens as I think about the fast-approaching deadline.

Out of desperation, my fingers fly across the keyboard, just typing. I’m now ranting, yelling, throwing my frustration at the paper. Those red, furious words, now freshly painted onto the screen glisten and hiss, and I don’t stop. I go on, and on, and on.

I reword a sentence here, delete a word there, then continue. More words join the ranks, as they each lay in their separate lines. And the army slowly grows larger and larger.

Finally, my tirade has ended. I sit back, panting. I gasp for air, take a sip of water, while I survey the damage.

My eyes widen.

I have written… a story. My heart quickens as I scroll up and down screen, my eyes admiring the shimmering letters. These words, they’re so powerful, so full of life. They tumble and crash, like magnificent waves against the coast. They sparkle, like stars in the dark sky, just begging you to read them, to listen to the tale they tell.

I smile, and press “word count”.

786 words.

I did it.