Editor’s note: This column was originally printed in July 2018. It is reprinted here as Scott Underwood’s weekly column, but not because he is currently suffering from anything remotely resembling the blockage of the writer.
Writer’s block must be a horrible thing.
It must be very disconcerting, especially for a professional journalist like me, to sit down in front of his laptop to write his weekly column and go completely blank.
His mind could be empty of any pertinent thought, any brilliant observation, any witty commentary, any pithy use of the word pithy.
Perhaps he would even go to a Sunday morning church service and, during the second and third hymns, silently pray for inspiration, addressing “the one true deity” just to cover his bases.
After the one true deity proved aloof and unaccommodating, perhaps he would literally bang his head against the wall until a mark appeared that he would have to cover with a bandage the next day to avoid uncomfortable questions in the newspaper office.
He might even do a Google search for “topics for columnists” and come across an explanation like this from britishnica.com:
“Columnist, author or editor of a regular signed contribution to a newspaper, magazine or website, usually under a permanent title and devoted to commenting on some aspect of the contemporary scene. The column can be humorous or serious, on a topic or on life in general, frivolous in tone or heavily loaded with good advice on manners, morals or other topics of interest. Essentially, a column is a reflection of the writer’s tastes and point of view, whether it’s women’s hats, foreign policy, or the stock market.
And then, if he’s really desperate, he could quote the whole passage from his column to fill in the space.
After that, he could turn to food for comfort, devouring a one-pound bag of almonds, walnuts, raisins, dried cranberries, filberts and pecans from the Southern Grove Serenity Trail Mix. , waiting for an idea, any idea, to come to mind.
But then he would probably be distracted for a few minutes by this thought: What is a hazelnut?
He could look it up on the internet and learn that it’s just another name for hazelnut, which would explain why he was finding hazelnuts in his trail mix when they weren’t even listed on the package!
So it’s possible he turns on the television, hoping to come across something interesting for a column, and find the British Open golf tournament. He could then, reasonably, consider writing a column about how good golfers became, before realizing he had nothing else to say about it.
After all that, as night began to fall and the press deadline approached, it might finally occur to him to write about the dreaded affliction that had paralyzed his fingers on the keyboard: the jamming of the keyboard. ‘writer.
This is all hypothetical, of course.
Personally, I find that the world is full of so many interesting facts and issues, people, places, and experiences that I would never run out of topics for my Monday column.