Writer’s block is a complete jerk

I can’t write.

Nah, that’s not right. I’m writing right now. This blog post.

Right now.

See, the thing is, I’m supposed to be writing a book. Since I decided to do this “writing philosophy” thing professionally, and I’ve already written one book on the subject, to consider myself an actual writer of philosophy I have to write.

Books, not blogs.

I really don’t even think what I have is writer’s block. After all, I am writing this blog post right now. I can write blog posts fairly easily. I once wrote eight posts in one day. (Really, I did). What my problem is, is that I’ve got some kind of philosophical performance anxiety. I’m right about to jump in the sack with some W.V.O. Quine but instead of something, there’s nothing. Instead of ED, I’ve got PD — philosophical dysfunction.

I don’t think there’s a pill to cure it, though. No Viagra for philosophers.

Man, that analogy was bad.

I remember sitting in my philosophy classes thinking (I realize arrogantly so) that writing stuff about things I’ve been thinking about shouldn’t really be that hard. I like philosophy. I like writing. I thought, if becoming a writer of philosophy means all I have to do is think about stuff and write it down, it should be easy peasy, right? I mean, come on, I said to myself, if my professors could do it, there was no way in hell that I couldn’t pull it off.

i totally blame these people for filling me with philosophical delusions

Heck, the guys on “Philosophy Talk” make chatting about philosophy seem not only easy, but downright fun and entertaining.

these are the hosts of “philosophy talk”, John Perry and Ken Taylor. do not be fooled by all the fun they seem to be having. it is highly unlikely that doing philosophy (even of you’re having fun) will get you your own radio show.

I’ve been writing on the same six pages of my book for three months.

I guess I was wrong.

I guess it’s not too late to change my mind about writing philosophy.

If I give it up I suppose that I wouldn’t have to think up any more bad Quine analogies.

this is W.V.O. Quine. in case you were curious.

… I wonder if that topless club is still hiring?

4 thoughts on “Writer’s block is a complete jerk

  1. I can relate to this completely. I do think the blogging helps though. Just being in the habit of writing gets you past some of the hurdles. The performance anxiety thing is a scary one though, and very widespread in philosophy – I suspect that this is because there is often something of an adversarial atmosphere in the discipline, with people wanting to knock each other down and ‘win’ rather than to help each other to advance in the field.

  2. you’re right about an adversarial atmosphere in philosophy! it’s strange that the very people who think about ethics could act so… unethically.

    and blogging does help very much — especially when i state that a job at a topless bar is a reasonable alternative to studying and writing about philosophy!

  3. The principle problem with all forms of discourse, historical, political, philosophical, whatever is the weight of writing. I’ve been struggling with a couple of articles recently my Ayn Rand critique and an attack, well more of a broadside on the revisionist history of David Barton. In terms of a debunking Ayn Rand’s attempts at epistemology and shreding her writing, that isn’t a problem, but saying something different and funny is another matter. With Barton, I’m finding my anger with his damned right lies almost impossible to contain, I think if I read another word of his rubbish I will explode. Even Jesus would hate David Barton.

    You have my sympathy, sometimes writing is impossible.

    I actually quite like the adversarial debate, perhaps I could debate Barton, or failing that we could have a fist fight.

    • If I was at all inclined to suggest you write something funny about Ayn Rand, I would suggest that you merely quote Rand herself.

      The Problem (and yes, I meant to use a capital “P”) with writing philosophy in particular is that philosophical writing tends to turn pedantic — which can easily suck out the humor in any paper, book, or treatise (unless of course, one quotes Ayn Rand). It’s the timeless battle between style and substance — if I attempt humor, I find that I short-change the philosophical content; if I use more philosophy, then my blog post is as exciting as a lecture on Immanuel Kant. It’s difficult to write philosophy enough, let alone worry about amusing an audience. I’ve often found that more than a few of my posts sufferred (is that supposed to have two “r”s?) from my trying to hard at making the material more audience friendly.

      As for David Barton, I do not envy you, Ian. I would tend to ignore “historical” accounts of that sort, but I understand someone must address Barton’s flat-out lies before our history comes to us courtesy of the Ministry of Truth.

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