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The need for butt glue

Food For Thought

“I think it’s writer’s block,” my friend said. “I can’t seem to think of anything interesting to write about.”
This, from a talented woman who writes delightful poetry and entertaining essays, and has something new to share with the writers’ group at nearly every twice-a-month meeting.
“Take an imaginary tour of your grandmother’s house,” someone suggested.
Others said, “Write about one of those old family anecdotes that get told at family reunions or around the dinner table on Thanksgiving.”
And, “Do you have any relatives who might be called ‘characters’?”
“Have you ever tried clustering?” I asked.
When she wanted to know just what clustering was, I explained that it is a simple word-association device that can reveal a whole list of possible topics to write about.
Start by writing one word in the middle of a sheet of paper, say you start with “summer.” What comes to mind when you think about summer? Perhaps; picnic, hot days, vacations, yard work, iced tea, going barefoot, allergies. Write them down around the central word. Around each of those words, write down the things they bring to mind. Hot days, for instance, might make you think of: swimming (water safety), sunbathing (skin cancer), shade trees (tree houses). Or, yard work could suggest: gardening (weeds), raking leaves (leaf burning), flowers (tulip bulbs), picking peas (canning), mowing (lawn mower safety, hiring teenagers). Once you’ve worked your way around the words, you should have a list of several possible topics.
The best thing about this method is it all comes out of your own head and includes only things your mind comes up with– things you are fairly familiar with or, at least, curious about. This should make it both interesting and easy for you to pursue the subject and gather enough information to enable you to write something both interesting and informative.
I tell my friends, and anybody else who will listen, there is really no such thing as writer’s block. The term is used mainly by people who are either lazy or insincere about their wish to write something. What they need, I tell them, is a good dose of butt glue. Not to be confused with Butt Paste, which is a treatment for diaper rash as suffered by babies. Butt glue is simply the ability to plant your behind in a chair and stay there until you’ve written something. Writer’s block is a reluctance to accept the fact you don’t want to work very hard at writing, so when ideas don’t come easily, you push the blame over to some imaginary infection or disease and call it writer’s block, just to get yourself off the hook.
The only cure for this malady is to write something. Sometimes you have to sneak up on it by writing something that you don’t think of as “creative writing.” This could be as simple as a grocery list. At least you’re making an effort to put words on paper; which may be the first step toward recovery. If you want to write prose, try writing a letter to a friend or relative. If you have nothing to say to someone you know, write a letter to yourself, complain about your “writer’s block” as much as you like, and about anything else that’s bothering you. Write yourself a reply to the letter and offer some solutions to all your complaints. Who knows? Maybe you’ll come up with a really good solution and you’ll feel a lot better.
If you’d prefer to write a poem, start with something simple; maybe a limerick. Limericks don’t have to have intriguing titles. They don’t have to be profound, and you only have to come up with two rhymes. To make it more fun, and to get rid of some of your frustration, write a dirty limerick. No one is going to see it, so be as raunchy as you want, and I’ll bet you can think of enough naughty words that rhyme you might even be able to write two or three limericks. That should make you feel as if you’re really on a roll!
All this suggested a tongue-in-cheek “prescription” I could give to those who think they’re stricken with writer’s block. I started a list of writing prompts that might give them ideas for topics to write about. Several of my writer friends added to the list and I made some of them into “prescription pads” they could use to help them get started on days they couldn’t come up with something to write about. This was intended as a sort of silly gift I’d hoped might jolly them out of their self-imposed dilemma, but guess what—they tell me that the prescriptions really do help. I may actually have found the cure!