Being a columnist is fun
I like my job. I don’t have to commute, the hours are flexible, and I spend lots of time in coffee shops, eating cake and running up someone else’s heating bill.
There is a downside, which is that, notwithstanding my looming deadline, every now and again I discover that I have absolutely nothing to say. My family has done nothing noteworthy, the news has been dull, and my personal life has either been uneventful or consisted of episodes that are not even vaguely publishable. Despite this I often find something to commit to paper - I am well known for being able to spout the most extraordinary amount of nonsense on almost any topic.
But very rarely, once in a blue moon, I am well and truly stumped. I switch on my laptop, raise my hands to type, and spend the next six hours staring at a blank screen.
Writers use various techniques to overcome this, none of which seem to work very well for me. Many will browse the internet for ideas. This is known as “research”. I have tried it. It involves me reading the entire world wide web before ending the day posting the funniest bits on Facebook. At best this is mildly diverting, and I must have lost weeks of my life doing it, but it’s not exactly productive.
Others have suggested that I attach a microphone to my laptop, switch on talk to text and just chat, to see what materialises. My main problem with this solution is that it requires equipment and technological know-how that I do not possess. I did try this once with an old Dictaphone, but it was one of those desk top ones where the bit that records looks like a microphone. It was beyond optimistic to think I’d do anything other than pretend I was headlining at Wembley whilst belting out 80s rock ballads.
I have also tried implementing a writing schedule, going for long walks, asking twitter for ideas and getting drunk, all of which produce amusing results, but none of which are worthy of presenting to an audience. Not even you lot.
In the end I came up with a solution which is known in my house as “JFDI”. Just Effing Do It. Even if you have nothing to say. Even if you produce the literary equivalent of vomit on a Soho pavement. Even if you are as incoherent as a Charles Saatchi damage limitation plan, just get on with it. Put the words on the page. Give it a fancy title vaguely linked to Shakespeare in the hope that you sound clever. Somehow, someway, something will come out that you will just about get away with putting into print.