Behind the Plate

Writer's block

If you're not a writer or don't have to write very often you've probably never been faced with the problem of not knowing what to write about. For the most part, as a journalist, I haven't really ever faced this problem.

But this week, for the first time in a long time, I couldn't think of anything to write about. Not for this personal column. That's frustrating.

I spent (more than) four years in college learning how to write news stories about anything and everything.

I learned about the inverted pyramid, spelling, punctuation, grammar and Associated Press style.

I generated a lot of story ideas, but a lot of my stories were assigned to me also.

I never really learned how to write a funny or witty column. I think my education was slightly lacking in that respect.

Maybe it's just a natural ability, but I think it's something that can be learned.

I have a friend with whom I went to college at Central Washington University - Aaron Miller. He had the right idea. Along with his broadcast journalism degree, Aaron earned a creative writing minor. I minored in boring, old political science.

I could talk to you about the American political system. I could tell you about Russia's current federal system and Soviet Communism, or Great Britain's parliamentary system. I can even tell you a little about the French and German systems of government.

But ask me to sit down and write a story - a real, creative, fictional story - and I'd probably just sit there with a dumb look on my face and my finger up my nose.

Some people write columns about their lives. They talk about their wives and children. That's kind of hard for a single, 24-year-old guy.

My life consists of TV, junk food, video games and sports. Talk about excitement!

I've been playing "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas" lately after picking it up for $15, if anyone cares.

A real treat would be finding a copy of InDesign or QuarkXPress that would work on my computer that's running Windows 98, and doesn't cost several hundred dollars (those are computer programs used mostly for newspaper layout... as my true newspaper nerdiness comes out).

But, if anyone ever opens a school on column writing, I'll be right there in line.

Maybe Tony Kornheiser will read this. But I won't count on it. I'd probably be waiting for that for quite a long time.


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