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A Writer’s Ailment

By Troy Bishopp

I can remember going to church suppers with my grandparents and upon seeing their friends would discuss what ailments they had and the milligrams and scientific names of medicine that kept them going.  I thought it was quite funny at the time to hear, “I’ve got the gout”, like it was a revered badge of courage to wear out in public.   Ironically, I’m suffering from an affliction not nearly as painful which thankfully can be cured with a good grazing conference and without any high powered drugs.

Simply put, I’ve got a little bout of the writer’s block.images

Writer’s block is a condition, primarily associated with writing as a profession (or in my case, part-time), in which an author temporarily loses the ability to produce new work. The condition varies widely in intensity due to fear of failure, pushing yourself to do too much in too short of a time and lack of inspiration.  For me it’s too many irons in the fire to concentrate and a little too much post-Christmas “Call of Duty” disease.

Thanks to a Google search, there are a myriad of solutions to overcome the writer’s block.  Among the therapies is to force yourself to write. This strategy suggests you write about any ideas or past experience just to get something down and even consider writing about having writer’s block, like I’m doing.

Author, Charles Bukowski, noted “Writing about a writer’s block is better than not writing at all.”  This will also help my wondering agricultural editors why the keystrokes have gone silent.

To equate me with a real writer whose published works don the New York Times or best seller list would be silly.  I’m just a casual free-lancer who happens to jot down what happens at an event, generates press for the organizations I work for or writes an opinionated farmer piece who is jaded with green colored glasses by equating everything to the merits of grasslands.

Being more of a free-wheeling pleasure writer, I wouldn’t expect to come down with such a mental block but here it is in plain view for the readers to see.  You may wonder how and when this affliction crept into my life and froze the keyboard.

I believe it all started with the stockpiled grazing project and weekly online tutorial (www.thegrasswhisperer.com) as I kept telling myself, “I’ll get to writing an article this weekend” which hardly ever came.  Then of course there’s our cute new granddaughter, Hadley, who likes her grandfather’s attention, football playoffs and new video games so you can see my diminished capacity.

Basically I seem to be a little tapped out at the end of a cold day and looking for the electric blanket instead of engaging in some prose.  Is it my age?  Is it my schedule and work-a-holic-ness?  Have I reached the threshold of my ability?  Is this the time in my life where I need to persevere like any good farmer worth his or her salt or fold up the notebook?

It’s gonna be hard to put my two fingers to bed when folks are asking me to produce more words, presentations and photos, not less, but how?  Like any good holistic thinker it’s time to look at root causes for the writer’s cramp and make some better decisions on time management to make this writing a pleasurable act again and not a chore.  I’ll admit to you it’s mostly an emotional human issue and not a mechanics problem (thanks Toastmasters) cause I have plenty of fodder and good stuff to weigh in on.

In getting back on track and keeping in good graces with media outlets, I’ve put together some hypothetical titles to bring me back from the writer’s block abyss.  Titles include:  Wearing a man scarf, making a homemade fly trap, riparian grazing strategies, contract grazing and why are video games so addicting, to name a few.  Hey, I just took the first step to recovery.

It certainly does help that the days are shorter and most grant RFP deadlines are over.  The NFL season is winding down and the NBA won’t be taking up much time either.  The cows are on full feed with a new tractor to move bales in less than an hour per day.  My task now is to balance work and family time with this writing affliction.

I’m thankful to share this problem with you which is helping me through this disorder.  My earbuds are once again filling with the sounds of hard rock music, both “two” fingers are accurate with spelling and the paragraphs are hitting Microsoft Word with a vengeance.  My wife knows I’m on the road to recovery by the reminiscent lip-syncing coming from the office and her first editorial look-see in a long while.

I guess now I’ll have something to contribute to the church’s next turkey supper roundtable of how I conquered the writer’s block.