Scott Underwood: Writer's block -- something that happens to other columnists

·3 min read

Jul. 18—Editor's note: This column was originally printed in July 2018. It's reprinted here as Scott Underwood's weekly column, but not because he is currently suffering from anything remotely resembling writer's block.

Writer's block must be a horrible thing.

It must be highly disconcerting, particularly for a professional journalist such as myself, to sit down at his laptop to write his weekly column and draw an absolute blank.

His mind might be empty of any pertinent thoughts, of any brilliant observations, of any witty commentary, of any pithy uses for the word pithy.

Maybe he would even go to a Sunday morning church service and, during the second and third hymns, pray silently for inspiration, addressing "the one true deity" just to cover his bases.

After the one true deity proved to be distant and unaccommodating, maybe he would literally pound his head against the wall until a welt appeared that he would have to cover with a bandage the next day to avoid uncomfortable questions in the newspaper office.

He might even do a Google search for "topics for columnists" and run across an explanation like this from britannica.com:

"Columnist, the author or editor of a regular signed contribution to a newspaper, magazine, or Web site, usually under a permanent title and devoted to comment on some aspect of the contemporary scene. The column may be humorous or serious, on one subject or on life in general, frivolous in tone or heavily freighted with good advice on manners, morals, or other subjects of interest. Essentially a column is a reflection of the writer's individual tastes and point of view, whether it is concerned with women's hats, foreign policy, or the stock market."

And, then, if he's really desperate, he might quote the entire passage in his column to fill space.

After that, he could turn to food for comfort, devouring a one-pound bag of Southern Grove Serenity Trail Mix almonds, walnuts, raisins, dried cranberries, filberts and pecans, while waiting for an idea, any idea, to occur to him.

But then he would probably be distracted for a few minutes by this thought: What the heck is a filbert?

He might look it up on the internet and learn that it's just another name for hazelnut, which would explain why he was finding hazelnuts in his trail mix when they weren't even listed on the package!

It's possible, then, that he would turn on the television, hoping to stumble upon something interesting for a column, and find the British Open golf tournament. He could then, reasonably, consider writing a column about how good golfers have become, before realizing he had nothing else to say on the matter.

After all of that, as night would begin to fall, and as press deadline drew nigh, it might finally occur to him to write about the dreaded affliction that had paralyzed his fingers on the keyboard: writer's block.

All of this is hypothetical, of course.

Personally, I find the world full of so many interesting facts and issues and people and places and experiences that I would never run out of topics for my Monday column.

Editor Scott Underwood's column is published Mondays in The Herald Bulletin. Contact him with column ideas, please, at scott.underwood@heraldbulletin.com or 765-640-4845.