What to Write When You Just Can’t Write

What to write when you just can’t write

Few of us live in a single-occupancy, write-all-day bubble. Most of us balance writing with a day job, a household, a host of deadlines.

Add to this that, at least here in New England, there are winter days when it’s hard to get out of our own way — let alone get creative. On those blah days, it’s an achievement to get out of bed and find two matching socks.

Hands up those of us who havent had a spate of creative dry spells? I have. Unemployment, family illness, bereavement or my own melancholia — these big life issues can eclipse every creative thought in our heads or our hearts.

In real time, it can feel like we will never be well or employed or caught up with work or happy or creative again.

To all you Eyores (as in Winnie The Pooh) out there (including yours truly), this last concept just isn’t true. The sun does shine. The words do return.

Sometimes, all it takes are a few moments of mindfulness, mixed with a dash of self-trust and self-care, leavened by some self-deprecating humor.

What to Write When You Can’t Write

Meanwhile, even while we’re in the throes of whatever it is that ails us, we can write. Maybe not a full essay or chapter or story. Maybe not every day. But there are ways to keep at it.

Here are some strategies that worked for me:

  1. Buy Yourself a Miniature Notebook: After my mother died, I believed that I could or would never write again. I was wrong. But during those dark days, I did keep a tiny, 3" x 2" spiral notebook by my computer monitor. You know the ones. They sell them in drug and dollar stores by the pack. I filled one of those tiny pages every day. A week or two in, I began to actually look forward to that mini-write. Most days, the writing was terse and strange, and I wouldn’t even attempt to classify it by genre. But it helped.

Photo by Daria Litvinova on Unsplash

Irish author, workshop leader in Boston area. Fifth book, “Green and Other Essays” just released. More at www.ainegreaney.com

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