Just Write

just write writing

For the past few weeks, I’ve been feeling that lost feeling when I sit down to write. The cursor on my screen just blinks at me, exuding impatience, while I struggle to come up with something to say. Nothing brilliant comes to me, though. The cursor blinks, I feel progressively more lost, and I wonder if I should just cut myself some slack and take a break.

After all, we all need a break sometimes, right?

While I don’t dispute that taking time off can be beneficial, the truth is that when it comes to myself, I’m pretty much a tiger mom. For my kids, I’m fairly easy-going. After all, they’re only kids. I’m an adult. I believe that if I want to get better, I have to do the work. That means showing up and writing whether I want to or not; whether I have brilliant ideas or not; whether Game of Thrones is waiting for me on my PVR or not. I need to sit in the chair, put in my 10,000 hours, and just write. It’s not easy, though, and the results aren’t always brilliant.

I know that if I look around, there’s inspiration. I see little plants in my garden growing bigger every day. I see Canada geese flying in giant V-shaped formations overhead, reminding me of childhood lessons about cooperation and perseverance and the rhythm of the seasons. I see my children learning and growing and becoming increasingly awesome every day. I see the routines of my life that nurture me and stifle me simultaneously, shaping my days and my experiences. I see opportunities to say yes, and opportunities to say no, and the ways that both of those answers can be either soul-killing or life-affirming. I hear jokes and read news stories and run my hands over stones warmed by the sun. I think about how a rock is formed and how it’s so strange that this particular rock should make the journey from prehistoric molten magma to a small object I can hold in my hand.

Sometimes, though, the inspiration doesn’t take hold. I can’t easily transform that wisp of a thought into a coherent piece of writing. I try and try, typing and back-spacing and copying and pasting, but my words are like clay that is too dry, crumbling to bits before I can create anything meaningful and solid out of it. The muse isn’t with me, no matter how much I try to conjure her through sheer force of will.

This is the way that life works, I think. Sometimes you have to just sit down and write (or paint, or sew, or map out an event, or draw up plans), even when it isn’t easy. There will be struggle. But in the struggle you have a choice. You can focus on the pain and the difficulty, or you can focus on the meaning of what you’re doing. By showing up even when it’s hard, and enduring the impatient blinking of the cursor, you’re wading into the murky waters of life itself. Sometimes, your feet get stuck in the quagmire, and the going is slow and difficult. But still, the important thing is that you’re going. The only way to get there is to go through it, even if you’re not entirely sure where there is.

And so, I sit here in this chair, feeling lost. But still, I write. Because I am a writer, and that’s just what we do.

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  1. Sympathies! I find it more difficult to write when the subject is left up to me; I’m much more at ease writing on demand to order, although I probably spend longer eventually with drafts, revisions, edits and so on. I also find it much easier when I know who the audience is, the format and the reason for writing (the class I took last year on rhetoric was strangely helpful although very theoretical).
    Right now though I’m in a creative rut, so I’m pulling out my favourite go-to warm up exercises to get me started … I hope.
    pomomama’s last post … fibre friday: save Capilano Studio Arts and textile Program!My Profile

  2. Oh, I needed this reminder today! I’ve been having more of this feeling in the past few months when I sit down to write, and it’s frustrating at best. I wonder if it’s kind of like the thing in yoga (at least, many of my yoga teachers have said this): that the hardest part is simply showing up. Once you’ve done that, you’ve already made a great deal of progress toward your ultimate goal.

    Thanks for showing up today! =)
    Amy @ Anktangle’s last post … Friday Favorites: April FlowersMy Profile

  3. But didn’t you find your muse by just writing this? So it seems to me.
    Rachael’s last post … On My Mind: 04.29.13My Profile

  4. I struggle with this in various ways. 1) that I have lots of ideas and not always time to write, and 2) that I usually need at least 20 minutes to get into my groove and then when the kids interrupt it, it’s hard for me to let it go, or to recapture it later. You can’t always control when inspiration hits. I love how the muse is often characterized as this fickle, elusive vixen. It seems so appropriate.

    Otherwise, have you listened to Liz Gilbert’s TED talk on creative genius?
    Alison @ BluebirdMama’s last post … On Grief and DyingMy Profile

    • I was going to reflexively answer ‘no’, because I’ve only seen a handful of TED Talks, but I believe hers was one of them now that I think about it. I remember finding it very inspiring. I clearly need to re-watch it.

  5. I really like this post. I’d like to add some brilliant comment but you’ve said it all, quite eloquently I must add 🙂

  6. Do you have a dozen or so half written blogs saved as drafts? Because I do!
    Lauralee’s last post … Printable BooksMy Profile

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