Dealing with Writer's Block

Getting ready to work, I stop to realize my desk would make the perfect overhead Instagram photo. All the quirky elements are here from the perfectly positioned notebook and pen to the open laptop and random plant for ambiance. I’ve even got a chilled bourbon and ginger ale, complete with a painfully hip spherical ice cube. I’d imagine it’s improper to claim a cube is spherical but I’ve already had a few sips so I’m in no shape to correct myself.

I always tell myself that a stiff drink will help with the writing process. That’s my excuse to drink—productivity. On the other hand, they say one clear symptom of alcoholism is when drinking starts to affect your work. It’s unclear if that’s still the case when the effect is a positive one. It’s something I’ll make sure to ask my doctor the next time I see her; that’s right, the doctor is a woman!

Despite my obvious enthusiasm for gender equality and my taste for middle-shelf booze, I’ve been struggling to churn out the female-driven dramedy the studio is expecting from me in three weeks. I shouldn’t even be writing this. When the studio first asked, I suggested they go with a female writer who might better relate to the experiences and themes of the film. Everyone in the room agreed that it was a great idea. Five minutes later I signed on to write the film.

I have about this much written:


Maggie (17) is a popular girl with classic good looks and the charm of a well-written movie character. We see her with lots of friends doing friend things.

That’s not good writing. Right off the bat I can see I should probably describe at least one example of “friend things.” Of course, I could also just move on and hope when I submit it that the studio’s reader is having an off day too—or is also drinking bourbon.

I haven’t had writer’s block this bad since I was asked to write a piece for The Atlantic on what it’s like to be a young black girl in Tennessee’s public school system. I admit it was a strange of them to request me for the piece, considering I’ve never even been to Tennessee.  I have to assume they knew what they were doing. And I was happy for the work, since at the time, I was only on staff at one TV show and had just a few offers coming in for punching up screenplays at major studios.

I’m not sure what the problem is this time. I’m fresh off an award-winning screenplay about a 31 year-old white male who despite seemingly having everything together, still behaved like a boy, until the woman of his dreams and an unforeseen tragedy helped him become a man. The momentum from that film alone should be carrying me right through this next script.

I probably just need to clear my head, refill my drink and maybe get around to taking that picture for Instagram. Don’t worry about my writer’s block and me. I’m sure if I watch Mean Girls a few times I’ll be able to whip up something before my deadline; make sure to look out for Girls with Friends in theaters next winter. 

Contemporary Drivel (A Literary Cover of Steve Martin's Drivel)

Growing Up and I've Lost My Edge