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"How I Wrote This Article" Article

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"Couldn't think of any lyrics!
No, I never wrote the lyrics.
So I'll just sing any old lyrics.
That come to mind, child."
"Weird Al" Yankovic, "(This Song's Just) Six Words Long"

When someone is contractually obligated to churn out regular humorous articles, they occasionally reach an inspirational dead end. Sometimes, to deal with this, they write an article about how they can't think of anything to write. This makes such pieces essentially forms of Metafiction, since they typically involve the author writing about writing.

Stephen Fry mentions in the book collection of his articles that every humor writer is allowed one and only one of these.

Almost always a form of Self-Referential Humor. See also Writer's Block. Sister Trope to Writer's Block Montage.



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     Comic Books  


  • The Doctor Who fanfic "Missing the Obvious" by Daibhid Ceannaideach, written for a "crystals" challenge on rec.arts.drwho, is a This Time Round fic in which Daibhid's Author Avatar completely fails to write a fanfic about crystals. It opens with a parenthetical comment that he can probably get away with this once.


  • Adaptation is this in movie-form — it's a film telling the story of adapting a book into the screenplay of what eventually becomes the film you're watching.
  • Fellini's is a film about making a film, when you've run out of ideas.



  • In Breakfast of Champions, Kurt Vonnegut's narration frequently goes off to explain what he was going through when he was writing it.
  • Belgian novelist Herman Brusselmans uses this trope on occasion, often as an introduction. The first sentence of De kus in de nacht (The kiss in the night) is as follows: "As usual I have nothing to say and I will do so for about 600 to 650 pages, we'll see."
  • "This Is the Title of This Story, Which Is Also Found Several Times in the Story Itself".
  • Dave Barry does this every so often.
  • An academic journal of psychology once published a scholarly study entitled "The Unsuccessful Self-Treatment of a Case of Writers' Block". Peer reviewers commended the author for showing his results in great detail while being admirably concise. Of course, everything except the title is blank.
  • Hungarian writer Frigyes Karinthy once wrote an article in which he explains that he should wrote a humorous article, but he can't, because a young man is standing behind him and reads what he writes (he usually wrote in coffee houses).
  • Umberto Eco had a column in the Italian news magazine L'espresso and he once wrote an article about how he can't think of anything to write about, but the space needs to be filled, so he's now writing this article about how he can't think of anything.
  • This is the subject matter of the manuscript in The City of Dreaming Books, and it's specifically noted that it should be a Cliché Storm by all rights. Yet, reading it convinces people that it's the greatest piece of literature ever put to the page.

     Live Action TV  
  • In the song "Boat Drinks" Jimmy Buffett sang, "I should be leaving this climate/I've got a verse but can't rhyme it."
  • In "A Story Short" from The Storyteller, the eponymous storyteller is forced to tell a new story every day. On the last day, due to an outlandish series of events, he doesn't have time to think up a new story, so he tells the story of why he couldn't.

  • "Weird Al" Yankovic's song "(This Song's Just) Six Words Long" is about this.
  • Eminem's song "Just Lose It" has a section that goes "I don't have any lines that go here".
  • Ben Folds' "One Down" is about the fact he's contractually obliged to write 3.6 more songs and he feels conflicted about "turning in a bunch of shit."
  • They Might Be Giants' "Number Three" (third song on their first album) is about burning out after writing only two songs.
  • Gwen Stefani's hit "What You Waiting For?" is about Gwen's writer's block during the making of her debut solo abum, Love Angel Music Baby, and addressed to herself.
  • Chicago's "25 or 6 to 4";
    "Waiting for the break of day
    Searching for something to say..."
  • Morris Minor And The Majors' "Another Boring B-Side" (the b-side of "Stutter Rap") details the cynical process of writing a song that most people will only listen to once.
    It's another boring b-side, another load of tat
    It has no redeeming features, and we're really proud of that
    You're listening to the product of considerable neglect
    But for a lousy one pound eighty, tell me, what did you expect?
  • Five Iron Frenzy briefly dips into this on the second verse of "Superpowers" (which is otherwise about the difficulties of being a touring rock band):
    Sometimes I have a deadline
    for writing our songs.
    Five minutes left to write this one...
    la, la la, la la, la la la.

     Newspaper Comics  

  • FoxTrot: One series of strips has Jason writing "a running first-person account of the process of writing a nine-hundred-word essay" for school, as part of a bet with his friend Marcus to see who can write the longer essay. Jason wins the bet, but his essay gets a poor grade because it's literally nothing but "This is my fourth sentence. This is my fifth sentence. This is my second paragraph..."
  • Calvin and Hobbes: Hobbes ended up writing this story for Calvin after he tried time traveling two hours into the future to retrieve his completed story, only to find it hadn't been written yet. Unfortunately for Calvin, the class loves it, but it makes him look like a laughingstock.


  • A semi-recurring theme in the contemporary arc of Arthur, King of Time and Space is that Arthur hates "can't-think-of-a-joke jokes", but not as much as he hates failing to update his webcomic. Likewise in the space arc, Tristram thinks writing a song about being unable to write a song is "only funny once".

     Web Original  

  • Uncyclopedia's article on writer's block.
  • Tim Urban opens his Ted Talk "Inside the Mind of a Master Procrastinator" with a description of his own last-minute writing of the TED Talk as an example of his process.


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