I think all writers have gone through times when we’ve wondered, “What the hell am I doing? I can’t seem to string more than a few words together and even they don’t make much sense.”
Then there are days when all we need to do is sit down at the keyboard, take a breath and brilliance comes shooting out of our fingertips.
I hate to admit it, but I’ve had more of the former than the latter during my career.
In those times when the words and ideas don’t come, it feels like I’d rather be doing anything else than staring at a blank page and trying to conjure up the gods of creativity.
In fact, the other day, as I was staring at a blank screen I decided I’d rather try to fix a kitchen faucet than continue to squirm in my office chair while waiting for the ideas to come. And so I got up from my desk, gathered up some tools, took my faucet apart and then put it back together again, easily losing a good hour of writing time. I thought the diversion would help open the flow of ideas in my brain the same way it opened up my faucet. But, it didn’t. In fact, it took me farther away from my writing.
There’s a quote from Joyce Carol Oates that I really like and it reminds me that when I hit the wall and would rather go do anything else than write, it is possible to work through it. She wrote in Women Writers at Work: The Paris Review Interviews, 1989:
“I have forced myself to begin writing when I’ve been utterly exhausted, when I’ve felt my soul as thin as a playing card, when nothing has seemed worth enduring for another five minutes . . . and somehow the activity of writing changes everything. Or appears to do so.”
I am learning new appreciation for the concept of B.IC. – “Butt In Chair” – and how, like Oates describes, if I just keep at it the words will eventually come.