The Crying List

A Pen In Each Hand

By Beaver

When I was in high school, some of my friends and I would write notes to pass to each other in the halls between classes. Some of the notes were simple observations on what was happening in the classroom–I still remember the one C wrote me about counting the spots on the biology teacher’s tie–or queries: “What should we do at lunch?” But since we were teenagers, the notes often spiralled into angst. Out of these notes grew the crying lists. Crying lists were recitations of all the reasons one needed a good cry: “I feel like crying because I got 7/20 on the last French quiz and I’m going to faaaaaiiiilllll!”

The lists always started with serious (or at least semi-serious) reasons for the writer’s general state of miserableness, but the idea was to keep listing until you couldn’t think of anything else to add–and that meant the reasons would get progressively more silly and trivial the longer the list got: “I feel like crying because the vending machine was all out of Oreo ice cream bars so I had to have a Fudgesicle!” By the time the list had been passed around and read, the serious issues commiserated on and the silly ones laughed about, the writer inevitably felt better. Somehow, writing it all out had a way of putting our problems into perspective. It was cathartic–kind of like a good cry.

Has it felt like everything and everyone has been conspiring to keep you from your writing lately? Try writing your own version of the crying list–this one with a writing focus. Start with “I’m blocked because…” or “I don’t have time to write because…” or whatever start-phrase fits your situation. Then list every single thing that’s preventing you from writing. Give yourself permission to wallow in self-pity, to lay blame, to whine. When you’ve finished your list, pass it on to a friend or fellow writer–someone who will understand–to read. Commiserate, discuss, laugh, and know that you’ve kicked a hole in your writer’s block by writing something.

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