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  • Writer's pictureWilliam Malpass

Overcoming Writer's Block

Writer's block is the condition of being unable to think of what to write or how to proceed with writing.

This is a picture of a red writer's block. It's little.

What can one do when writer's block strikes? Well, one must strike back, as best as one can! The results are sometimes phlegmatic, but rarely obsequious.

The other day the pilot light on the water heater went out, so I found myself up in the attic seeking to rekindle it. While I was up there, thinking about unusual words like phlegmatic, obsequious, and rekindle, I looked over and saw my old, broken street name gonculator sitting atop a pile of dusty Boy's Life magazines. (Click on the underlined link to learn more about street name gonculators.)

Now I knew my gonculator was pretty thoroughly broken; nevertheless, I couldn't resist firing it up one more time to see what sort of sublime street names it might beget. Of course it needed new batteries. It takes four AA batteries, six AAA batteries, and a nine-volt. I had to look around awhile for the nine-volt. I finally got my gonculator up and running and started calibrating the—what do you call those sliding things?—no, not potentiometers, but that's a good guess. I think they're called analog rheostats. (Modern gonculators are completely digital, of course.)

Modern gonculators are completely digital, of course.

There's sort of an art to getting a good street name out of one of those old analog gonculators, and I don't pretend to be an expert. I fiddled with the settings for awhile, but started to grow restless. So then I just closed my eyes and pressed the INITIATE button. (I had to kind of feel around for a second to find the button, because my eyes were closed.)

So what do you suppose happened? Well, the output was mostly junk like:

  • #Hashtag Highway,

  • Underscore_Alley, and

  • Question Mark Way?

But there were also a few somewhat interesting results:

  • Antediluvian Avenue,

  • Nephilim Street, and

  • Deluge Drive.

When I went back and checked the settings, one of the sliders had been positioned to PUNCTUATION AND SPECIAL CHARACTERS and another ended up on GENESIS 6. So go figure, right? I guess that old, broken gonculator still had a little life left in her!

Then I went back downstairs and got a hot shower.

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