Yes, I had writer's block, and it was horrible.
For the last six months, I have been working on a paper about the influence of society on diplomacy, focusing on diasporas, to present at an international convention. However, I was not able to write coherently and thoughtfully. I had writer's block. Now I realize how fortunate I have been, as this was the first time ever that I could not put my ideas into paper or, nowadays, the screen.
Since my university years, I have always been able to compose some decent prose, from my three theses all the way to my recently published practitioners' essay about public-consular diplomacy in the Journal of Public Diplomacy. I always have so many ideas, which is one of the reasons that I decided to start this blog. Time has been my only limitation in writing before I hit the wall.
My previous understanding of writer's block was that the person did not have ideas to write. Now, it is the opposite. When you have too many ideas and options to frame your thoughts, you cannot write, period.
Having writer's block is an unpleasant experience, and now I understand all my Ph.D. friends and scholars that struggle to finish their dissertations and essays. Framing a gazillion thoughts in a certain way is the most challenging task of the writing process, so your argument and evidence can stand the multiple tests they need to pass before you can present them publicly.
For me, the issue at heart is how to demonstrate that diasporas influence a country's diplomacy from a societal perspective. Luckily, I found an article that helped me overcome writer's block, so I was able to move forward with the working paper. I had to hurry to finish the first draft of the essay so I could present it at the convention!
After all the hoopla about ChatGPT and other Artificial Intelligence programs that (supposedly) will help humans better communicate ideas, process complex thoughts, and even do the work for us, it is time to reflect on what makes us human. For me, the ability to process information and put it in black and white (or orally presented) is one characteristic of humanity besides feeling emotions and, for some, having faith.
The disruption of social media was supposed to improve our livelihoods, but looking at the current state of the world, it is clear that I did not fulfill its promise. Technology in itself is not bad or good; people make it beneficial or detrimental. Let's hope we are more careful about its implementation this time so we don't lose part of what makes us human.
DISCLAIMER: All views expressed on this blog are that of the author and do not represent the opinions of any other authority, agency, organization, employer or company.
Rodrigo Márquez Lartigue
Diplomat interested in the development of Consular and Public Diplomacies.