In lieu of the many comments here on writer’s block, I thought I’d contribute a little diddy:

Writer’s Block Sonnet

I stretch around to write a sonnet
The words I choose do come doggone it.

And what I write, I think is cool
Only makes me sound a fool

I dream & dream the day away
And claw my tongue for what to say

Cloudless stains a shining sky
Thoughts imprisoned—a mirrored-eye

But someday a stony brook might sing
Of diamonds & pearl & sea & king

And what I thought was dumb perchance
Pings and pongs to make its stance

So have your gold & have your bling
I’ll keep my looking glass—hear it sing.


Birthday by Marc Chagall

There’s been talk about writer’s block. I don’t really have a cure, but I know that every time I visit a museum, I leave with a poem. On Sunday, it was the MoMA. I went to see the Van Gogh exhibit, and then I went to say hello to my favorite painting, and then I found myself in front of a wall of Chagalls. This one particularly struck me. I couldn’t remember having seen it before. I kept thinking “fish husband.” I realized the man’s a ghost, but still I thought, “fish husband.” I was determined to write a poem about a fish husband. But this is what I came up with. No fish husbands. Just ghosts.


I cannot tell a lie I want a whole long line
of admirers to stand outside the window
of the Chagall painting in which I live.

I want them to have crossed over many
rooftops, through grey and snowy weather,
arms full of stars and frozen roses.

I want wise men for admirers. I want horses.
I want cellists and rabbis and stained
glass menorahs for admirers. When they come

and stand beneath my window I will ask them
have they suffered? How much and for how long?
I cannot tell a lie I cannot make up my mind.

Every night they stand there and yet every
night I light the candles, close my eyes,
and wait for my husband to fly above and in.

images-11I received a semi-anonymous email last week with a plea for advice regarding writer’s block. In lieu of a traditional post this week, I thought I would share my exchange with the writer with you, our readers.

12thstreetonline is meant to be a forum for us to explore writing both personally and professionally, so I hope you guys chime in with advice for our friend in need, and perhaps pitch some queries of your own in regards to your own writing these days.

Dear Anna,

I’m having a severe case of writer’s block. I can’t work on my play, my fiction workshop stuff, anything, and I was wondering if you had any tips? It’s seriously getting to me and I don’t know what to do. Help!


Hypergraphia is the overwhelming urge to write.

According to neurosurgeon Alice Flaherty, author of The Midnight Disease, this urge is triggered by changes in brainwave activity in the temporal lobe.

Writers such as Dostoevsky and Lewis Carroll are said to have been effected by hypergraphia. (Lewis Carroll wrote over 9,800 letters in his lifetime.)

Lately, I find myself sitting down wanting to write a poem…and I can’t finish. I am unable to connect any of the words, pieces, ideas, or fragments together. The words are fighting with one another. Nothing feels natural, and yet I have the overwhelming urge to write new poems for the poetry workshop I am currently in.

Am I having writer’s block?

Should I even use the term writer’s block?

Does writer’s block really exist?

What do we do as writers when we can’t produce material we feel a strong connection to?

“You don’t know what it is to stay a whole day with your head in your hands trying to squeeze your unfortunate brain so as to find a word.” —Gustave Flaubert