Hitting the Wall, by Ben Jeapes

Photo by Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash
It was a wet and gloomy day, and I had hit a wall editing a load of text. Seriously, it was like editing a wall.

I was on a deadline so I was eliminating distractions. Door shut. No music. It didn’t work. I just could not make myself be interested. My attention just slid off the words.

Solution no. 1: just walk away and do something else. As I said, deadline. Not viable. Solution rejected.

Solution no. 2: just do it. Force myself to edit it, word by word, each syllable like a tooth being pulled. Well, okay, it’s an option but even the driest bit of technical text (which this wasn’t) deserves better. You can make it mechanically correct, all the words in the right order and all the stated facts true, but if you as a writer haven’t inhabited the text then it will never truly live, and that is what I owed the client. Solution rejected.

Solution no. 3: change the situation. As I have said, it was a wet and gloomy day. I have enough self-knowledge to say that days like that just make me want to eat and/or hibernate. Well, I can’t change the environment outside but indoors I have more control. I put the lights on: I don’t normally do this in daylight, but the situation was not normal. (And we’re on green energy so I can do it with a clear conscience.) I did not eat something – I know that’s a slippery slope - but I did put some music on. I would love (or you might love me) to say it was something noble and uplifting – a magnificent symphony, or something religious, a rock to which to tether my spiritual barque. Nope: Ultravox. Loud.

We are designed to be happy. Genesis 3 “curses” us with work – it makes it clear that we must toil for a living. Yes, but it doesn’t say work can’t also be satisfying (there’s a heavy hint in Ecclesiastes) and it certainly doesn’t say we should go out of our way to be miserable about it.

I suppose there’s a kind of irony that the client will never know: I put the finishing touches to their masterpiece while Midge Ure was bellowing out, “This means nothing to me …”

Ben Jeapes took up writing in the mistaken belief that it would be easier than a real job (it isn’t). Hence, as well as being the author of 5 novels and co-author of many more, he has also been a journal editor, book publisher, and technical writer. www.benjeapes.com


  1. Ha! Love this. So honest. Isn't this how it often is? I find it fascinating how writing, which used to be my pleasurable hobby, (and still largely is) has a slightly different flavour now I'm doing it pretty much full - time. Great post.

  2. That is such valuable advice: 'Change the situation'. It can apply in so many different ways. Thank you for a helpful post.

  3. I also loved this. There's nothing worse than that feeling of wading through treacle and knowing you have to do it. Ultravox! Of course. Brilliant.

  4. I would have been so disappointed in you if you'd played something noble and uplifting. Phew!

  5. Love that last line. Really made me smile.


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