It had been my quarter-year resolution to write a blog post at Conversations@ELIS each week but for some reason, inspiration has not struck for the past two weeks since I came back from vacation. I had a list of articles that I had read on the bus and plane that had inspired me and memories of conversations and topics swimming around in my head that usually would have sparked off a few inspired paragraphs at least, but each time I sat down at the laptop or IPad, nothing came to mind.

Writer’s block.

Have you had it?

I never used to believe in it as a student, when words flowed out of my pen at a frenzied pace during exams. And I continued to ignore its existence as a teacher, when students stared at me or at their paper blankly during composition writing exercises in class. “Just write!” I would nudge them. “Quick! You should be on your second page by now.” At the back of my mind, I felt a bit sorry for them, the poor children who were forced to write an interesting story with three pictures and a question mark within such a short time-frame. It’s small wonder, I thought later as I ploughed through the same hackneyed storylines about lost boys in shopping centres who learnt lessons about not wandering too far away from their mothers, that they dislike composition writing. They’re just uninspired.

However hard I tried to find all sorts of ways to make them love writing and the written word as much as I do (ranging from one-to-one sessions before school, drafting, using drama techniques, using technology, using games, using K-pop actors…), they said the same thing. “But Miss Wong, during the exam, we don’t have so much time to think.” (At which point, I would whip out essays written by past students under exam conditions and convince them they too can write beautiful compositions under pressure, to collective protests of “Ohhh…but we’re not so smarrtt..”)

I tried to convince them that there was no other way to efficiently measure writing in a manner that was fair, valid and reliable.

But now, I wonder. Is there?

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