Carol Brennan King May 26, 2022
I am guessing that you are a writer if you are reading these words. You may not be comfortable with calling yourself a writer because you think only published writers can use that term. But think about it, you probably have friends who would not mind being called a golfer, or a hunter, or a cook, or a baker, or a runner even, who have never won a contest or race – the equivalent of being published.
They are people who just enjoy golfing, hunting, cooking, baking, or even running. Or writing, like you, like me.
Now some of them might be really dedicated to their passion and want to win a medal for it someday. But others just like doing it. Maybe they like the getting outdoors, or having something to show for their efforts, like a fragrant batch of chocolate chip cookies, or even just a tan.
But if you are writer, as you are since you are here, you are someone who likes to play with words and worlds on paper.
All of that to say this: even writers hit the wall! You might get stuck in a current project or be between projects and struggle for inspiration. That’s what I want to talk about today – an idea to help you wake up the writer in you again.
When I recognized that I was very close to finishing the first draft of Leaving Ireland I struggled to get going again, to come up with any ideas that brought me joy or any sense of accomplishment. Then, as I was tidying up in the bedroom, I saw this journal Jim had gotten me for Christmas. I had put it on the pile of books next to my bed and thought maybe I could write something in it. Then I thought, like maybe tonight.
You also might enjoy a fancy pen, like the ones here that I buy on amazon – all the beauty of fountain pens, but none of the work.
Now I am a goal-oriented person, so I aim for one page each night. One page with words on it: a poem maybe, a quote that was meaningful, a paragraph from someone else’s work that I love, or even a short piece of creative writing – my thoughts on why I should plant something or bake something – the choice usually presenting itself wrapped up in a memory.
Here’s an entry from February:
February 21, 2022
A slice of spring fell from the sky
squirrels spilled out of trees
I breathed in sunlight
great lung-fulls of it, for
winter is not letting go,
So, if you don’t have a journal of your own right now, you might want to get a notebook, even just a spiral bound one. Let me encourage you to have a goal, a writing goal that is easy to reach.
My goal is a page with words on it before I go to sleep, even someone else’s words that I like. The page does not even have to be full. And it can even be about your kids or your neighborhood kids or your own self as a kid.
Nothing deep, unless it is something I don’t want to forget from my reading, somebody else’s words that fit the description as deep.
Can I encourage you to give it a shot? Don’t wait until you are really stuck and depressed because the words won’t come.
This is like planting a garden and watering it. Get your materials and put them in a handy place in your bedroom. Start writing something small, four lines maybe, not a book or anything. This is just a playground for ideas.
But if you begin this practice, you will always have a mine of ideas to consider when you do feel stuck with other work. The point is to let the writer in you come out and play.
Right now, I am using a journal Jim gve me. However, I have a stack of spiral bound notebooks all filled up. And I am looking for more of thosed spiral bound notebooks for when I run out of pages in my journal.
Oh, it won’t be long before the stores will be full of back to school supplies. You know it’s true. Buy yourself a stack of your favorite notebooks and pens. I will be there in Walmart looking for my favorites when they are cheapest.
Meantime, start with what you have. No matter how bad a day you have, whether it is in relation to your writing or your relationships, give yourself ten minutes with that notebook and you should be feeling lighter. Get that stuff out on those pages, then shut it and leave your frustrations there.
You can leave it there forever. I heard of a writer who periodically burns those notebooks. I don’t think I could ever do that. They may hold tough stuff, but they are always also full of possibilities.
So give it a shot! You might even head off a “stuck” moment.