It’s only words, and words are all I need...

Writer's block - what's that?
Writer's block - what's that?

By Paul McCabe

Not being the best sleeper in the world it doesn’t take much to keep me awake at night and there’s been something niggling away at me for the last couple of nights that’s made the prospect of getting some shut eye even less likely than usual.

Employing my usual tactic of lying in bed wide awake waiting in vain to nod off, whilst cursing the need to sleep in the first place, I was disturbed every few minutes or so by a gut-wrenching pang of panic. That feeling of dread you get when you know that there’s something that you need to do that’s filling you with dread and no matter what there’s no way you can avoid it.

It’s my turn to write the ‘First Person’ column for the Fife Free Press this week and I can’t think of a single thing to write about.

Nothing. Nowt. Not a single, solitary thing.

Now I should point out straight away that I’m not trying to make writing this column sound like a punishment. I normally enjoy it. You’re basically allowed to waffle away about anything you want, within the boundaries of taste of course.

In the past I’ve eulogised on the greatness of Mohammed Ali and Jocky Wilson, railed against the obscene price of getting into the football, poked fun at party political broadcasts, written way, way too many times about my childhood in the ‘70s and ‘80s man, and most recently of all had a rant at my arch-nemesis, that vacuous nonentity Olly Murs.

But this time my spectacularly unimaginative barren desert of a brain has decided it hates me and I must suffer an appalling case of writer’s block, the unfeeling swine that it is.

I mulled over a few ideas whilst staring hopelessly at the curtains in the dark but one by one they were dismissed out of hand.

The General Election? Not clever enough.

Hearts miraculous season, from almost going out of business to romping away with the Championship? It’s a Raith Rovers paper - no-one would be interested.

Music? No, you’ve done that too often too.

Concert ticket price rip off? Boring.

Monkey Tennis? Alan Partridge.

Erm...........My childhood in the ‘70s and ‘80s? NO!

It’s a genuinely terrifying situation to be in. Newspapers have deadlines after all and you don’t want to go asking one of your colleagues to write it for you instead, lest they discover what a talentless cretin you actually are.

There’s a minute crumb of comfort in knowing that I’m not alone. Many of the best writers suffer from the same problem from time to time. Maya Angelou, Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman have all spoken about it, how hard and scary it can be and what they have done themselves to overcome it.

Others are a little bit harsher though. Kurt Vonnegut once said “Who is more to be pitied, a writer bound and gagged by policemen or one living in perfect freedom who has nothing more to say?”

Though I take your point, right now I’m going with the latter, mate.

Anyway, enough with the moaning, I’ve somehow got to go and write a column now...