une panne

une panne (pan) noun, feminine
1. a breakdown

panné(e) = broke (c'est une panné = he's penniless)
une panne de courant/d'électricité = power failure
une panne de moteur = engine failure

en panne = out of order
panne sèche = out of gas
tomber en panne d'essence = to run out of gas
laisser quelqu'un en panne = to let someone down
avoir une panne d'oreiller = to oversleep
rester en panne devant une difficulté = to be stumped (by a problem)

Citation du Jour:

La plume de l'écrivain est aux pensées ce que le filet du chasseur est aux papillons.

The writer's pen is to thoughts what the hunter's net is to butterflies. --Paul Carvel

("En panne" for a good "panne" quote, I offer a "pen" quote today! Note: "panne" and "pen" have the same word origins.)

A Day in a French Life...

(Les Risques du Métier)*

Max and Jackie have writer's block. My 9-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter were in charge of a weekly column for this newsletter. I had this all set up to where if one kid backed out, then the other could write the column. That's when my little écrivains* in residence came down with writer's block. Simultanément.*

"Je ne sais pas quoi écrire," (I don't know what to write) Jackie moaned.
"J'ai mal au bras," (My arm hurts) said Max, patting his wrist.

The inkwell has dried up. Une "panne sèche" of the pen. Plus rien.*

I do not know how to translate writer's block into French. I guess you could employ the verb "coincer" which means "to be in a jam". I should get writer's block too, but when your dream is to put out a daily edition there is no time to be kwen-say* over a few words, be they French or English.

"We wouldn't say coincé" my husband informs me over the phone. But he doesn't know the French word for writer's block either. "Perhaps 'une panne'?" he says.
"Panne.." Une panne is a breakdown or a failure.
"Une 'panne d'idées,' or 'une panne d'esprit'..." he offers.
"That would be a failure of ideas, of wit or of mind..."

Perhaps. Peut-être. ("Pas de panique!" I tell myself.)

All I know is that we had better not have too many more of these "panne" episodes, or I'll be panhandling for a living, my pen dream having petered out.

*References: les risques du métier = work hazards; un écrivain = a writer; simultanément = simultaneously; plus rien = nothing left; kwen-say = pronunciation for "coincé" = stuck; pas de panique! = not to worry!

Update: writer's block = "le syndrome de la page blanche"

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