This Writer’s Bane

I love writing. I may not be terribly good at it but I have never really cared about that. I love writing and whenever I feel the

This isn't my danged dining room table. It's my danged couch, where I wrote this particular blog post.

This isn’t my danged dining room table. It’s my danged couch, where I wrote this particular uninspired blog post.

thoughts churning around in my head I almost immediately start putting them down on paper.

Yet I find myself struggling with a couple of things.

I don’t currently have a job. That means I don’t have an office. And that means that when I write, except for when I’m travelling, I write from home.

I don’t know how professional writers do it. Does a home office make all the difference? I have never had a proper home office. I have never had an apartment/house big enough for one. When I write at home, I write at the dining room table or with the laptop in my lap while sitting on the living room couch.  It’s like slow death. It is the most uninspiring thing in the world. Would it be different if I had an office somewhere? Or would I become uninspired after writing from the same office for a couple of weeks?

I loved writing while on the road. I would be dead tired after cycling for 100 km but I would still have just enough time and energy to blog about my day. I blogged while sitting in my tent, while eating at a roadside café, while sitting on a bench in the middle of an Italian old town, while reclining on a bed in a two-star hotel somewhere in the middle of the Czech Republic. I was constantly inspired throughout the day while cycling, even when nothing much actually happened, and I was inspired when I finally reached my destination and had some downtime to recover for the next day of cycling.

Is it a personality thing? Do I need constant change to be inspired and to able to write?

So many writers complain about writers’ block. I rarely get that. I have writers’ diarrhea. My need to write is so strong that I will write about something as mundane as the need to write; just so I can write.

But then sometimes I want to write about something and the mere thought that I’ll have to expend some emotional energy writing it while sitting at that same danged dining room table…well, it just turns me off.

That happened to me yesterday. I wanted to write about how I was feeling one year after the Egyptian military coup of July 3, 2013. I started to write but then suddenly thought: Jesus! I’ll have to summarize the whole story of Egypt post-revolution once again for new readers. I’ll have to get in touch with my feelings of trauma over it all so I can explain the whole thing properly. And I’ll have to do all that while sitting at that danged dining room table. Fuck it. I’m not doing it.

I’ve been wanting to translate into Arabic my blog posts about my cycling trip across Europe. Many Arab readers have said I should turn it into an Arabic language book. When I got back from the trip, I was still inspired enough to write an Arabic introduction to “the book”. But since then, the mere thought of going through everything I had already written and writing it again in Arabic, while sitting at that danged dining room table makes me feel uninspired.

My other problem is related to money.

Writing is one of the few things I truly enjoy doing. But I’ve never figured out how to make a proper living out of it. I spent a few years working as a journalist. I love being asked/commissioned to write about something. I don’t get requests like that anymore. And I am so over pitching stories to editors and not getting responses. I can’t deal with the feeling of being rejected. Also, the amount of time, energy, and expenses that goes into writing a piece for a media organization is rarely worth the amount of money one gets in return any longer. I’d rather just write posts on my own blog for free for my own enjoyment and for readers who come to my writings, however mundane, to read.

Some of you will suggest I find a nice, local café to do my writing from. I’m just not interested. I don’t want to go somewhere familiar to write. I might as well write from my familiar dining room table.

Maybe I’m just a lazy writer. I love writing when thoughts come rushing out of my head. But I don’t want to have to put too much time or energy into something that will have very little to no financial return; not if I’m doing it from that danged dining room table.

I need to write. I need to write so badly that I have just written more than 800 words to tell you all how much of an uninspired writer I am right now.

I need to write.



  1. Two things you need to know: a. You’re an excellent, fluent, lucid writer that I never tire reading. Your sentences are always rich and exploding with energy no matter what it is you’re writing about, and that doesn’t rule out this post, and b. You are not alone in this. I can relate to much of what you’re saying. I think that the thing that put me off the most from freelance journalism is the fact that the time and energy and even finances spent on writing a good piece are barely rewarded from the newspaper or magazine you’re writing for, so after one or two pieces I decided that it was not the thing for me. Then there’s most importantly the need to write about Egypt that often gets repressed because I simply can’t revisit the emotions that come with it. Until now I haven’t been able to even speak properly about it. I can’t revisit the memories and I can’t revisit the rage. Writing about them will have to bring it all back.

    And yes, I have no clue how professional writers do it. I feel very, very uninspired and demotivated at home that I let so many hours pass without even trying the do the writing that I actually want to do in order to be able to call myself a writer and start the process.

  2. Don’t know if this will be any help but when I get stuck I find somewhere comfortable and do a first draft on paper with a fountain pen. I know it’s a bit weird but it helps me. By the way, I too love your writing whatever the subject. It’s always so you.

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