Wednesday, November 25, 2009

I Got Nothing

So here I am, ready to do my blog post. Ah, what to blog about?

I throw my penny into the well of inspiration and hear…clink! Empty. (You can’t see this, but my cursor is blinking at me. Blinking. Come on, Kristen! I’m wai-ting…blink. Blink. Blink.)

It happens. Some may be more prolific than others, but all writers at some point or another find that their well has run dry. And what to do when it happens?

There is a theory (no, I don’t have the energy today to look up its origins, sorry) … a theory that says that by adapting to an hourly schedule, creating standardized time, we as a race severely quashed our creative energies. True? Debatable.

But the premise is this: creativity does not run on a clock. Nor is it constant. It ebbs and flows; ergo there are surges and dry spells. We, as creative beings, are not machines. Creativity is an organic thing. To try and tame it, force it to adhere to our industrialized schedule, is going against the tide. Of course, we as a human race just love that challenge and often try to bend nature as we like.

But what does it mean? Well, that there will be days like today when I won’t be at 100 per cent. Maybe not even 20 per cent. Yet the guilt that comes with that, the feeling of failure is brutal. Never mind that there are spells were I can churn out an average of 10,000 words a day for months on end. Here, on this day, when this stupid blinking cursor is yelling at me, is my shame.

An excellent piece of advice is to write every day. Regardless. You are a writer, so write. But what if I don’t want to? What if I only write once every two months? Am I not a writer? (This is the madness that goes on in my head –aren’t you happy to be here? (g) )

And just exactly what is it that makes one a writer anyway? [Work with me here, I tend to philosophize when dry]

When that inevitable small-talk question arises, “What do you do?” At what point do you find yourself able to say, with your head held high, “I am a writer.” ??

Is it when you’ve completed a book? I can’t imagine so. Some of the best writers I know haven’t yet finished their books. Conversely, some of the worst writing I’ve read has been in published books…

Is it when you have an agent? Published? Published multiple times?

I suspect this answer will be different for all of us. It’s too tied into our own insecurities. But I have to believe that there is a moment for all of us when a switch flicks in our soul, when we feel, know with complete confidence: yes! I am a writer.

And perhaps that is the point. Perhaps being a writer isn’t simply about the act itself, but the declaration as well. I think, therefore I am. Well, I am.

What about you? Have you reached that moment of knowing? And if so, what did it for you? Do you feel guilt about your dry days? Must you write every day to feel valid? Has my crazy-ass post confused you enough that you’ve missed that I’ve written about essentially nothing?

Please, talk amongst yourselves, I’ll be having some coffee.*

*Edited to add that as we do live in a schedulized world, I say we make the best of it. Writing every day with out fail is definitely one of the best ways to combat the dreaded dry spells. I'm just sayin' is all...


  1. I'm a writer, too, by golly! *stands proud*

    No, I'm not published, no I haven't made a single cent from it, but dang it, I'm a writer. Not sure that's the right way to judge it anyway, though most of society (coughfamilycough) does. Ah, the dreaded question. "You're a writer? Where can I buy your books?" BAH. (g)

    Oh..and I'm SO with you on that dry spell thing. It happens. In's HAPPENING to me as we speak. Working on the next installment of the serial. (g) Here's hoping I find some words here--quick-like.


  2. I'm a writer because... well, I've been doing it since the age of 5. That's one reason. It really hit home for me though when I didn't and couldn't write a single word between the novel I wrote when we were in Turkey (2002-2003) and Austin's story (in 2006). Three years! I really started to worry that the well had dried up and that's when I realised how important writing had been to me. Thank goodness inspiration seems to have returned in abundance.
    Come to think of it, maybe that's why I worry so much about dry days and try to force words out more often.

  3. You know, it only was *today* that I actually, really and truly thought, "Wow. I'm a writer." I've written stories ever since I can remember, spent three years slogging out the first draft of my book, won a short story contest, but it was today, when I sat down amidst the chaos that is five children running mad in my house and got 1500 words down for the next installment of our serial - after much hand-wringing, let me tell you - that I thought, "I can actually do this writing caper." And I love it. I was so charged up to be writing something new, to have all those ideas (finally!) sparking off ... that really wouldn't happen if I wasn't ... well, a writer. And the dry well? Hmm, what works for me is to get up from my desk and go do something totally unrelated to writing (such as walking, or even cleaning my teeth! LOL); it seems to shakes the cogs loose again. Fingers crossed that keeps working!

  4. Yay Rachel! "caper" always puts me in mind of a leprechaun dancing a jig, which is how I feel when I start a story. Ah, yes, start... :-)