How Information Overload Turns Into Writer’s Block » VSB

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How Information Overload Turns Into Writer’s Block

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My morning ritual is pretty consistent. I hop up out my bed, turn my swag on, I look myself in the mirror and say “what’s up!?”. Every morning. That is followed by my morning constitutional where I catch up on the news.

And there is always news. In fact there is so much news nowadays that it is overwhelming. And I’m not an overwhelmed kind of cat. My resting bitch face has been known to give off “not whelmed at all.” But right now? There is literally too much news and information. And in the space that I live in – the writerly one – it’s created an interesting problem: I literally want to write about everything making it hard to write about any of it.

Just today, scrolling through Facebook, the following stories are worthy of note: the acquittal of the cop who killed Sylville Smith in Wisconsin, Trump’s fuckery of any sort, the Philando Castille video, North Carolina having a law on the books that states that once sex has started a woman cannot legally stop it (that’s real), the fact that so many men are really fucking rapey and how scary that shit is, Queen Sugar’s return to the OWN Network, that Zadie Smith piece, the Senate health care plan,  Al Sharpton’s selfies, Phil Jackson attempting to ruin his entire legacy, etc.

All and each of those things is important in it’s own right. There is no shortage of words that can be expended on each topic and all of them would likely spur a conversation that needs to happen. There are a million conversations that we’re all waiting to have on any number of things that matter to the community in this fight for liberation and other words that sociologists use. That’s another thing I’d like to write about, Black Liberation lexicography, which may or may not be the right word but I’m going to use it anyway. And I want to write about that because I feel like I let the community down sometimes because I don’t know all the proper words to use and when to use them. I JUST got up on properly using “the fallacy of reality” in my not-quite-poems poetry and now I be fucking up the struggle terminology. Again, I’d like to write about that, because like soul music, language is life.

One of my go-tos when I can’t think of anything to write or I can’t siphon my thoughts into a cogent address, is music. Typically, I can write about music all day, every day, any damn day. It is another sphere where there’s no shortage of information and material. Yet, even there, in my happy-and-not-sunken-place, becomes overwhelming because I consume so much music and people send me so much music to consume and within the music world are shenanigans aplenty as well. And shenanigans are my oyster.

But again, there’s so much shenanigans, which is just ratchet information. So, so much. If you were to look at the drafts folder in my Gmail inbox, it’s LITTERED with drafts of pieces I started or of one-sentence ideas that I need to get off the ground rooted in some news article or some conversation I heard or was part of. Seriously, I have ideas in there (same with my phone) from 2015 that I STILL want to write about but can’t get going because all of this NEW stuff is sitting there, asking for some lettering.

I realize I’m neither unique or special in that regard. For every piece that makes it up somewhere, there are hundreds of unfinished or unwritten pieces languishing in the hallways of the mind. Some of it is being plugged up with real world obligations tied to current employment. And if you knew what I did then you’d be like, okay, that makes sense and in fact how are you able to do any of this. Busy times, my friend. Stay thirsty.

But the desire to write something, anything, is always there and I feel like it sits there for most of us who write. Especially those of us who are cultural writers or archivists or whatever fun term I’m going to call myself over time to make myself sound awesome to my children. This is why they say you just have to keep writing. Everything won’t be award-worthy. Some shit you write gets you from dope drop to dope drop. And also, it’s impossible to NOT stay up on news; Facebook makes that almost impossible.

I don’t see the information overload ending any time soon either. We live in a time when information is being disseminated in every way possible. Even the least woke individual is up on something going on in the world. So pushing through is the only order of the day. Like a shooter in a slump, you have to keep shooting to get yourself out of it. And that’s what we have to do in this information overload vortex as writers; write it out, bitch. But it is important to acknowledge the effects of information overload.

So I ask you, how does information overload, of which I’m sure most people deal with nowadays, affect you and your connection with the world?

Inquiring minds would like to know.

Panama Jackson

Panama Jackson is pretty fly (and gorgeous) for a light guy. He used to ship his frito to Tito in the District, but shipping prices increased so he moved there to save money. He refuses to eat cocaine chicken. When he's not saving humanity with his words or making music with his mouth, you can find him at your mama's mama's house drinking her fine liquors. Most importantly, he believes the children are our future. You can hit him on his hitter at panamadjackson@gmail.com.

  • Amazonian Midget

    “If you were to look at the drafts folder in my Gmail inbox, it’s LITTERED with drafts of pieces I started or of one-sentence ideas that I need to get off the ground rooted in some news article or some conversation I heard or was part of.”

    Replace GMail inbox with my personal blog’s draft section, my journal and several incomplete (and unsaved) documents on Pages, and you’ve got me! I was actually just considering limiting the amount of information I allow myself to consume each day (especially the sources), because I know it’s affecting my ability to focus. This post is confirmation, thanks.

    • ValerieTheTenderoni

      Sometimes limiting yourself is a good thing. I struggle with staying focused as well.

      • Amazonian Midget

        We can conquer this beast together!

  • Uncle Remus

    So right now, I’m trying to help a crew of educators wrestle all the information and skills they want kids to have, all the information state standards say kids have to have and all the random (great) opportunities available in the city into some semblance of a coherent curriculum. There is too much. And most of it is INTENDED for the benefit of the children (yes, even the state standards, with the exception of some of the social studies standards which are intended for the maintenance of a imperialist ideology (sorry about that side rant)).

  • Jocelyn

    That one time I was reading VSB because the project pitch I’m supposed to be writing isn’t writing itself. I’ve been staring at a Word document with angst. And that’s just the work writing. When I find myself overloaded and overwhelmed, I try to take a walk. The fresh air clears my head and loosens up my limbs and thoughts.

  • ValerieTheTenderoni

    This is how I feel about web design. I have all these ideas and I have assignments to compete but sometimes I’m tired of looking at code or playing with layers in the Adobe Creative Suite so I distract myself. I recently starting cycling so when feel burned out, I go ride my bike.

    • Val

      What kind of bike did you buy?

      • ValerieTheTenderoni

        I settled on the hybrid bike.

    • BM, President of Fuckery

      Good choice, biking is zen. What type of bike do you have? I have a white mountain bike, I call it Snow White because riding it up hills home from work always tires me out.

      • ValerieTheTenderoni

        It’s a hybrid. I need a pink helmet now

        • BM, President of Fuckery

          Good s*it, how is the job? Are you good? How was the birthday?

          • ValerieTheTenderoni

            Birthday was so much fun :-D

    • Rewind4ThatBehind

      Working out feels soooooo good…but preparing for it sucks soooo much.

  • Val

    Link to the Zadie Smith piece, please? Also, sort of on topic, did you get my email, PJ?

      • Val

        Haven’t seen Get Out, so I have no idea what she’s talking about.

        • Rewind4ThatBehind

          Val….fix this.

          NOW.

        • You and the girlfriend need to watch Get Out and Dear White People over a weekend. You’ll thank me.

        • I found it brilliantly written personally. I get, but I don’t agree with people’s dislike of the latter part of the piece and felt they personalized it way more than Zadie actually did herself with the musings. That and people’s general exhausting to the discussing “blackness” and “black bodies” makes them not want to engage with it at all.

        • MsSula

          You need to watch it. Please.

    • panamajackson

      Did the great Val finally respond to an email I sent munfs and munfs ago?

      No. Please resend.

      • Val

        Lol Sorry, I explained why it took so long. I’ll resend now. Thanks.

        • AzucarNegra

          You have the hook up?

          • Val

            Lol Nope.

            • AzucarNegra

              Btw there is a post that needs your response

              • Val

                Where, Tam?

                • AzucarNegra

                  Above. Right below Cy’s

                  • Val

                    Don’t see it?

                    • AzucarNegra

                      Lol

        • you tryna write your 100 greatest models of all time list

          • Val

            100? That’s way too ambitious.

      • AzucarNegra

        You know our resident unicorn??

  • Gibbous

    Unplug on the regular. Take a walk/hike, go to the beach, leave the phone in the car. If you can, go somewhere where there’s no cell or data reception, cabin in the woods, time with the family. You’d be amazed at how you almost become mama bear-protective of your unreachable, unplugged time/place. Phone tries to bleep, and I’m like “Nope to the nope! All the nopes! Don’t anybody try to talk to me!” Don’t worry about missing news, it’ll all be there when you get back, and it doesn’t really take all that much time to consume on the catch up. I feel like it actually takes less time to catch up on what happened over a weekend, than if I were consuming it as it trickled in.

    Juneteenth is a celebration of news that was heard TWO YEARS late, and yet, it was still ‘news’ and newsworthy.

    • ValerieTheTenderoni

      Juneteenth is a celebration of news that was heard TWO YEARS late, and yet, it was still ‘news’ and newsworthy.
      Quoted for emphasis.

    • Effrom Robinson

      I turn my phone off, leaving the country is a good excuse for completely shutting the phone off. I remember getting a work e-mail shortly before reaching the Pyrenees. I gleefully ignore it of course, “Nope, you people know I’m out of the country, I’ll see you when I get back!”

      • Gibbous

        Weekend backpacking trip. I put my phone on airplane so that I can still take pictures and I wait as long as I can to turn off airplane mode because all of those notifications, even if they’re not important, are almost too much to take at once.

    • Brown Rose

      That’s my goal to get back to that state where I would think, read, and wonder.

    • Kat

      My phone is on silent 80% of the time. I feel no compulsion to return a text or call, ask my momma.

      • Deborahlcrofoot


        Last month i got paid 11000 bucks… I got that by working simple online work from comfort of my home for 3-4 hours/each day that I got from this firm I discovered over the internet and I got paid 95 bucks each hour… And if i can do it so can you,try it out here
        ???http://www.OnlineGlobalTopJobsTopMaps/Wage/Home….
        ????????????????????????????????????????????????????????::::aj50

      • Rosalynjmckinney


        my roomate’s ex wife makes 79 dollars an hour from home. she’s been without a job for five months. the previous month her pay check was 18465 dollars only working on the internet five hours every day. ?check this page
        ???http://www.SoundOnlineTopJobsBuzzSound/Home/Wage….
        ????????????????????????????????????????????????????????::::ak35….

    • This reminds of the Storify-Thread the fantasy writer Daniel José Older did called “Write when your ready to write”. Often this idea of having to write everyday can cause writers block in and of it self. He suggests to get into a confortable headspeace and not to beat yourself up too much on the days and weeks you can’t seem to write anything worthwhile.

      Here’s the thread: http://ghoststar.net/blog/write-when-youre-ready-to-write-storify

      • Brown Rose

        This is great Rolling. I think this works best, to write when you are truly inspired or feel called upon. Thanks

      • Val

        Hiya, Rb!

        • Hiya, Val! How’s it going? :)

          • Val

            Everything is good, thanks. Miss you around here. :-) How are you?

            • Thanks for asking. :-) I’m doing pretty well. Most of the time I’m very satisfied with myself I how my life is going.

              I’ve been hanging out a lot more with anti-racism activists and just being around people that care is mad empowering to me. I’ve also hung up some amazing new artwork in my apartment and it’s amazing how much more it feels like home.

              Work has gotten better, since I’ve asked to help out this other team in our office space. The work is easy, but it kills the time and the new team is great.

              The comedy gigs keep increasing and I’ve improved a lot and am doing gigs all over switzerland. I’m even nominated for the Swiss Comedy Newcomer Award. The finale is going to be in mid-september and I don’t know anyone of the jury. Fingers crossed!

              What’s going on in your life, Val?

              • Val

                Coincidentally I just hung some art in our new place too. :-)

                Hanging out with motivated people is a good thing.

                Comedy Newcomer Award? You buried the lead, Rb! That’s great! So glad you are finding success with comedy. My fingers are crossed too! Let me know what happens. And drop us a youtube vid of your routine when you can,

                I’m settling into our new place and new neighborhood. I’m loving it so far. Gearing up for summer. Planning a trip. Also, looking for some regular activities. Not sure what yet.

                :-)

              • Val
                • already did and I’m following the hangout to get notifications. You are doing god’s work Val! <3

  • This coincidentally reminds me of the Kafka diary tweet from like two days ago. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/fa5cff36a9e00c22c8d5b0bad3c10c26edaadcf81897e9587cec7c94be63816d.jpg

    • Darkchloe144

      These are gold (Feb 7th, tho), and remind me of my own journalings:
      March 29th “….Nope….” May 22nd “Pffffft…..”

    • Rewind4ThatBehind

      Wow.

      These descriptions are so poetic.

    • Brown Rose

      Poor perfectionist Kafka.

    • esa

      writers are neurotic AF. that’s the tragedy of words ~ so many writers are plagued by their relationship to the form.

  • BrothasKeeper

    Click on the X. Power off. Take a nap or stroll.

  • Dustin John Seibert

    I rock with the stuff that comes rushing out of me like diarrhea. The piece on Ja Rule…? Flowed like water. Finished it in one train ride from St. Louis to Chicago.

    If I’m beating my head up against the wall trying to work on something that I THINK I have a lot to say about, I probably don’t. And I scrap it.

    • Rewind4ThatBehind

      That’s how I operate.

      If it flows like water, I feel like it’s what I care about. But the stuff I have to put deep thought into, I know it’s going to be good, but I just don’t have the patience to keep writing wack stuff until the better stuff comes.

      • Dustin John Seibert

        Yeah and I think that’s what separates writers from people who write — I’ve been doing this for 17 years now and I know not everything will be a gemstone. And I also know that not everything will be published — I spent good time and energy writing a 7,500-word postmortem on this guy in Chicago who decided to close an extraordinarily popular hot dog/sausage restaurant because he just didnt wanna do it anymore…and it was never picked up.

        But this ish is what I do so I don’t have the luxury of hanging it up after a setback. UPS might be hiring, but I enjoy my freedom. And my chili-mango margaritas. Keep writing if you love it, sir!

        • Rewind4ThatBehind

          Thanks for the encouragement.

          Yea my love for the craft has always been there, I just never figured out how to fine tune it until now. So I definitely see your point. Nobody has winners out the gate every time fingers touch the keyboard.

          I’ll keep this in mind. And chilli-mango margaritas because I’ve never had that and it sounds awesome.

          While you’re at it, try to find a West Indian bar that serves sorrel margaritas. Delicious.

    • Val

      “…stuff that comes rushing out of me like diarrhea.”

      I’ll say.

      • cyanic

        Can he be forgiven?

        • Freebird

          Dont let the eyeball fool you Vals kind of gangster.

          • AzucarNegra

            Kind of?? Is…a gangster

          • Val

            Fb!

        • Val

          See the photo that he posted? He doesn’t give a ish, so why should he be forgiven?

          • cyanic

            He gets off on being horrible. Continue throwing sky high level shade.

            • Val

              True. Some folks figure if you can’t be good at what you do then just pi$$ people off for a living. Sort of like Jason Whitlock.

      • AzucarNegra

        Oh the shade

        • Val

          More of a read. Lol

      • Rewind4ThatBehind

        Spicy

      • Darkchloe144

        Bwahahaha

      • Hadassah

        Bye, Val!!!!!!!!! Oh and heyyyYYyyyyyY!!!!

        • Val

          A to the M!

      • Dustin John Seibert
    • Hadassah

      I read that as beating my meat….

  • Brooklyn_Bruin

    The one that would take the most emotional toll is the one I opt for when faced with too many topics.

    *Sends tps report to boss*

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