How Panic Pulls A Column Together

Photo by Ciccio Pizzettaro c/o Flickr Creative Commons

Photo by Ciccio Pizzettaro c/o Flickr Creative Commons

Some weeks, it’s a simple matter to come up with a topic to write about. It pops in my head, and in a few minutes, I have something that doesn’t make me feel like I’ve eaten a bowlful of ground glass.
Those are good weeks.

Then there are the weeks when all I feel like all I’ve eaten for three days is those shimmering bowls of glass.

Those are the weeks were I hoard stray thoughts in hopes that I can hammer them into something presentable, and for a few minutes I can keep the panic from exploding out of the mess that is my shard-filled stomach.  The sad part is that my gut knows that I’ll probably never be able to do a full column on elf rights, the tyranny of ice cream cones, or that strange, shifty-eye pigeon that keeps following me around.  False hope is better than no hope at all.

There are more than a few of these random half-formed ideas that I’ve worked on for hours, getting them almost done, and then realized they were hate-filled stink bombs that should never be loosed upon the world in any form. Those, I’ve kept to myself, thinking maybe they can one day be salvaged.

And, sometimes they can be. The one in which I wished my blind date were actually blind? I completely re-wrote that one at least four times.

As Sunday approaches, and I still haven’t come up with a workable idea, I look through these half-finished orphans, with hopes that I might be able to make them into something workable quickly, so that I can move past one more deadline.   They mock me.

Sadly, most of the time I read through them, remember why I stopped writing it, realize I don’t have a clue how to fix it, and close it.

Then I really start to panic.

I call family members and confide to them I haven’t got a single clue what to write for the column, and beg them for a nugget of something—anything to write about.  Admittedly, this is part procrastination and part inspiration.

Then there are times when I sit myself down, in front of the computer, and force myself to write something, and hope that whatever I write will turn into an actual idea.  I have no idea what I thought would come out of typing “It was a dark and stormy night” over and over again, but, it made me feel like I was, at least, writing something.

This rapidly devolves into a maddening check of the word count, which boils down my hours worth of blood, sweat and tears to a mere 128 words.  Thanks a bunch, word count tormentor.

At this point, I remember that I need a picture to go with the post, and I spend three hours scouring free image sites hoping to find something that could possibly fit with the content, and  then, panicing again when I realize I’ve only got two hours left to post, and it takes at least an hour to set everything up.  This is also largely a procrastination ploy.

Finally, I re-read, and fix things, and try and “punch it up” a bit, and then decide it’s good enough,  I’m just going to send it out and hope no one unsubscribes.

You probably don’t have to guess into which category this idea falls.

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