Ah the blank page...

Not that’s it’s ever blank for me. There were 10,361 words in this document before I typed a title that will change and then the date. Similarly at work a press release has a template with logos and contact details and even a new advert will begin with corporate colours. Still, it’s a familiar situation.

I do not want to write this column. I’m not feeling particularly well and I want to go to bed early and read or take a bath or watch an episode of CSI (blood and gore relaxes me) but that is not the point of the column. Much as I try to write content that will be interesting, really it’s all about me. It’s about a discipline and proving to myself that writer’s block is self indulgence.

It’s a self indulgence because with writer’s block you give yourself an out, an excuse not to work. By giving it a name you make it a symptom you are experiencing and you take it outside yourself. You evade a degree of responsibility and as so many people experience this it becomes an acceptable fact of life and is certainly not your fault.

The thing is of course is that there is generally an underlying reason and I think the one that affects me most is probably very common. I struggle to write because I fear criticism. After all, if I don’t say anything, I can’t be told I’m stupid/boring/inept. I hold back from writing because I want to wait until I have something good to say. I know this is absurd because writing improves with practice and the best way to go about it is to practise. Hence the commitment to 1,000 words a week. It’s far less about the content than it is about the process.

Today is a mix of the above and exhaustion so there is a degree of physical excuse but here I am typing away so clearly I wasn’t that exhausted. It might be gibberish (and frankly I don’t care – I think I’ll go for watching CSI in the bath and sit the laptop on the toilet lid) but I’m proving to myself that no matter how arduous, it is always possible to write.

376 words *sigh*

One thing that can be challenging about this blog (but which is the greatest joy for me about it) is that there is no topic. With so much possibility, it can be difficult to know where to start. The opposite is true for work where I often write within exceedingly narrow parameters. So I’m rather excited about a new writing project I’ve just got involved with. I am to be a new blogger for a special interest website!

It’s a subject close to my heart and something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. I’m going to be adopting some ex-battery chickens and charting the journey on Poultry Keeper! I’m far from an expert so the blog will include my digestion of the information out there and how I applied it to my own birds.

I really love chickens. (Shall I nominate this sentence now for 2011’s low point?)

My mum kept bantams when I was growing up. Bantams are a small breed and produce dinky little eggs. If we had a fry up it was not uncommon to have three apiece and I owe much to my mum in becoming the cook I am today. So often in baking recipes you’re told that measuring is important but while she followed them for the most part, the quantity of egg was mostly guesswork and while I’m sure she had her failures I mostly just remember fabulous rock cakes warm from the oven when I got in from school. Just writing that brings back so many memories that I know I’ve a wealth of stories to fall back on in the new blog.

Since then I’ve had a small amount of contact with chickens at work. The Dean Heritage Centre has a fantastic recreated Forester’s Cottage with a vegetable garden (with an Anderson shelter) and animals; Gloucester Old Spot pigs, Ferrets that get taken for walks by our visitors and two lots of chickens. When I’m duty manager it’s my job to put the chickens to bed. One set are really good, the other have had me standing in the drizzle tossing grains into the coop and pretending I’m cheery as hell and not pining for a hot bath. I don’t love it but I don’t mind it. I actually find it quite entertaining the way the hens go by the mood of the cockerel and that he wants to go to bed anyway but is just putting on a bit of a show.

I’m certainly not idealistic about what keeping chickens will be like but I can’t wait. There’ll be a run attached to the coop but I like the idea of them being allowed the run of the garden now and again. I look forward to eggs (once they settle in and start laying) but I also look forward to the sound they make and their little routines. I’m excited about blogging because it’ll give me an excuse to take lots of pictures of them and it gives the whole thing a delightfully project like feel.

887 words (I’m getting there).

The end is in sight, I’m on the final stretch here and it wasn’t actually so bad. Sometimes we build tasks up in our mind so that they seem much bigger than they need to be. It is just 1,000 words after all and they don’t have to be brilliant or insightful or world altering, they just need to happen. Week on week. To prove that it is always possible to write and the key is to not give in to the excuse of writer’s block. After all, while this blog gets little in the way of editing, everything else I do gets lots of it and the most important thing is to have plenty of copy to begin with!

3/20/2011 05:28:41 am

Best post yet.


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