Writing

I haven’t been writing, and I miss it.

I’ve watched TV. I’ve read blogs. I’ve come up with a thousand brilliant ideas that quickly vanished into the ether. I’ve played a lot of PokΓ©mon Go (Go Team Mystic!).

But I haven’t been writing, and it’s left a void.

Getting back in the habit is harder than I thought. Fear has set in. Fear that I’m not good enough, fear of sticking my foot in my mouth, fear of offending. Fear of being misunderstood. Fear that what I have to say won’t matter, fear of not making an impact in the world, fear of irrelevance.

Lots of fear, see?

But the biggest fear is that I’m done, that my creative well has permanently dried up, that new ideas will never find me. My biggest fear is that the thing I love doing most is now forever out of my reach.

I picked up my pencil the other day and tried to tell a story, but I hated every word. Each syllable sounded wrong. Forced. Not like me at all.

I haven’t been writing, and it shows.

Writing keeps me sane; I don’t feel whole without it. And if there’s a better way to learn about oneself than by playing with words, with ideas, in the bright sunshiny garden of a blank page, I don’t know it.

But I haven’t been writing, and it’s left a void.

I filled that void with food all summer long. But now it’s stuck to me like glue, and I hate each pesky ounce. (Would that they came off as quickly as they went on!) I filled that void with other things, and though they were only mine for a little while, their memories remain.

But I haven’t been writing, and I miss it.

Each time I check my email, I’m reminded I have tales to tell. Each time I see my pencils, I’m reminded I have tales I want to tell, need to tell, have to tell.

Because even though I haven’t been writing, I am still a writer, and I will write all the words before my time on Earth is through.

Are you a writer? How do you handle life’s inevitable dry spells?

(c) 2016. All rights reserved.

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118 thoughts on “Writing

  1. MSK says:

    Remember what our patron saint Anne Lamott said … give yourself permission to write a sh*tty first draft. And then amend that to include – give yourself permission to write a sh*tty first ANYTHING. Remember … even if those words are crap, you can always go back and make them better!

    You. Got. This! (PS – You should also read “Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert. Excellent book.)

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Christine Lashinski says:

    I am in the same place. My idea for both of us is to start a bit smaller. Let’s not start off with the pressure of starting a story or even working on an old one. How about a writing prompt we do for ten minutes that we do not plan to use anywhere or for anything other than to reach into our memories and get some words on the page.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. crazymomma2014 says:

    Im not a writer. I am reader. I am trying to get into writing. I have thoughts and ideas, but when it comes to putting them on paper it is always a jumble. So, I am grateful for the people who write so that I can read. Thank you! I hope that I can be half of the writer that you are.

    Liked by 4 people

  4. markrhunter says:

    It’s a problem I haven’t had for many years, bu I still remember the frustration. I thinking searching out writing prompts may help. Another idea is to go out and experience something new–a new place, a new hobby, even watching some documentary. I’ve found that the more I go through life, the more ideas seem to pop up around me.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Kay Kauffman says:

      I haven’t had this problem for a while, either, but I think burn-out started setting in toward the end of spring. I wrote next to nothing all summer – just filled my well. Now, though…ugh. Waking up thise creativity muscles is like trying to get me out of my nice, warm bed on a cold winter morning. πŸ˜€

      Like

  5. blikachuka says:

    I think self doubt is a huge problem for writing- especially when we think of all the time it will take to write a draft novel, that might not be any good… I have started with just blogging… at least it is writing something rather than nothing…

    Liked by 4 people

  6. TaleWriter says:

    I think most of, if not all of us go through dry spells. I’m going through a bit of one myself. Below is an old post of mine. I think I need to take my on advice and do a better job of showing up.

    Good luck with your writing.

    SHOWING UP:

    I’m a writer, but I don’t always feel like it. Sometimes you just have to show up and do the work, whether you feel like writingβ€”whether you feel like a writer or not. . . . And so, I leave you with this:

    β€œWe are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.”

    ~~ Ernest Hemingway ~~

    Liked by 5 people

    • Kay Kauffman says:

      That is a fantastic quote! I totally sympathize with not really feeling like a writer, because I’m there right now. Here’s hoping things start looking up soon for both of us! πŸ™‚

      Like

  7. Defluo Neminem says:

    Hey, fellow struggling writer here! I could seriously relate to this post, this was me for about the past year – triggered by THE WORST English teacher on the face of the planet.
    Anyway, I’m super glad you posted this! I’ve been trying to get back into writing for a couple days now and am currently wondering what the heck happened…

    Liked by 4 people

    • Kay Kauffman says:

      I’ve been trying to get back at it for a while…I’ve spent the last couple of days trying to come up with a workable outline, and it’s been super helpful. A colossal pain in the butt, but helpful. πŸ™‚

      Good luck with your own writing! πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Scott J. Clemons says:

    Nowadays I really dont sweat the dru spells. It wasn’t always that way. I used to beat myself up for not being the word count master. knocking out tens of thousands of words a day and dazzling crowds with my chops. I wish there was just a pill to deal with the dry spells, because of there then I’d take two.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Kay Kauffman says:

      Same here! Mostly I wish I had more time for writing. I mean, I know you only have the time you make, and I do make time for it, it’s just that I don’t spend as much time writing as I would like to. While it’s amazing what you can get done in an hour a day, I always find myself wishing that I had several more of those hours in each day.

      At least, I usually do. Now I just wish I had a few more hours to recharge my batteries each day so that when I do actually sit down to knock something out, I’m not nodding off five minutes later. πŸ˜€

      Liked by 2 people

  9. boundrose says:

    Creativity never dries up. Keep pushing forward even if you just end up writing words. I find doing meditations before writing either in the form of stories or repetitive drawing can relax me and allow a free flow of thought. Maybe that will help you. I wish you the best -Rosie

    Liked by 5 people

  10. boderick says:

    Why do we write? I write because I think I have something interesting to say; about writing, about books, about music, about all the strange and unlikely things that go to make up a life.
    But whether other people find it interesting to read – who knows. I’ll just keep doing it (until I stop) and hope that somebody thinks it’s worth reading.
    I suppose my biggest fear is not that what I write is irrelevant, but that it’s boring.
    Ah well. Thanks for your post.
    Take care

    Liked by 3 people

    • Kay Kauffman says:

      You’re welcome!

      I worry that what I’ve written is boring, too. Mainly, I think, because I don’t find it boring, but others might. Then again, I enjoy reading the dictionary for fun and most people I know would rather watch paint dry. :/

      Like

  11. Shane/Scoot says:

    Funny you should mention fear. I just put up a short post on self-doubt…

    I’ve just discovered your site, and this is the first post by you that I’ve read. What I get from what I’ve read is, simply, that you write. That’s what you love to do β€” You’re a writer! And these spells will come along. I’m not sure what you it is you plan to write (is it a novel, a short story, a screenplay?), but purely by writing this post, you’ve written, and that’s progress. I think short exercises could help – writing haikus or flash fiction, or a poem, perhaps.

    In any case, I wouldn’t fret too much. You’ll latch onto a good idea and before you know it you won’t be able to pull yourself away from your new project.

    I wish you the best of luck with it, and keep positive.

    S/S

    Liked by 3 people

    • Kay Kauffman says:

      Thank you for the encouragement! πŸ™‚

      Oddly enough, I write lots of poetry, and usually haiku. At one point, I’d written so many haiku that I even found myself thinking in the form. But the cause of my current writerly woe is my novel. I’ve been struggling to figure out how to fix its many problems for some time, and it’s sort of sapped my creativity. I hardly wrote a thing all summer, but I’ve been slowly getting back into a routine, and it feels great. Really great.

      I just checked out your post on self-doubt. I’m definitely the same; the longer I go without writing, the grumpier I get. Glad to know I’m not the only one. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

    • Kay Kauffman says:

      Thanks! A lot of writers must be having the same issue – I’ve been reading a lot about it lately. Like Shane/Scoot said above, it’s endemic…and possibly an epidemic!

      Maybe we’re all just worn down by the coming election? I know I am. Good luck with your own writing!

      Like

        • Kay Kauffman says:

          Persistence! I know what you mean about losing your rhythm – I squeeze writing in around four kids and a day job. It seems like just about the time I start really picking up steam, somebody somewhere needs me for something and I have to put my story aside; then when I come back to it, getting the words out is like pulling teeth. But persistence pays off in the long run.

          Liked by 1 person

  12. Jeanne says:

    The one thing that changed my creative life, which now includes writing is a quote by Martha Graham, as follows: “There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is, nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate YOU. Keep the channel open.

    Liked by 3 people

  13. definitelysane says:

    I think it’s important to separate the writing voice from the editing voice. So often I think that I don’t just want to be a writer, I want to be a good writer, and the fear of writing something tacky or clichΓ© or whatever holds me back, but I have to convince myself to turn off my critical voice and just blurt out words as they come to me and worry about how they sound later.

    I’ve never regretted writing anything, even when I first started and had no idea what I was doing. Even if you’re just describing the room you’re in right now or the last thing you ate, it feels good to get your thoughts on paper to remind yourself that you can still write, and in fact are most likely getting better with every word.

    I know how you feel, though.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Kay Kauffman says:

      You hit the nail on the head – turning off one’s critical voice and blurting out the words as they come is so, so hard, especially when Self-Doubt is rearing its ugly head.

      *sigh* Sometimes brains are the worst.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Momzen Mutterings says:

    Thank you so much for sharing such an honest post. I’ve always been a ‘closet writer’, fearful of unkind words and too focused on making a living. I believe a gift doesn’t just go away, unfortunately our brains just hide it from us here and there. Although I don’t have much traction yet, I am trying to be an active writer everyday to discipline myself and to overcome my fear. Dive in and just start writing/typing random words that come to you……maybe it will inspire. Good luck!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Kay Kauffman says:

      You’re welcome! A lot of people seem to be struggling with writing through the hard spots, if the reaction here and the plethora of other similar posts I’ve seen are anything to judge by. I guess all we can really do is take it one day at a time, eh?

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Just a girl says:

    Just learning that following a dry spell comes the painful spell of disappointment is the hardest lesson of all. But you get through it, and i believe these times are needed to make you a better writer

    Liked by 3 people

    • Kay Kauffman says:

      I agree. πŸ™‚ Usually when I hit a dry spell, I fill my creativity well by doing other things I enjoy, but that hasn’t helped as much this time as I’d hoped it would. I’m hoping Nano Poblano will help kickstart those creative juices. Three days in, it seems to be working! πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      • Just a girl says:

        Now mention of Nano makes me feel bad…I was going to do it, then life interfered before i even started!! Glad it is working for you so far and fingers crossed it continues!

        Like

  16. brendanmulloy says:

    I find that the words tend to flow more easily when I’ve been keeping up on reading. I have been neglecting my books and my writing and as I posted something new today I could tell how stiff and rusty my inner workings being expressed have become.
    Back to books! My plan is to get back to reading every day, if only for 15 minutes or so. And of course writing as soon as inspiration strikes.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Kay Kauffman says:

      I know what you mean! I haven’t been reading as much as I should, either, and this weekend looks like a perfect weekend to stay in and curl up with a book. Maybe I’ll have to do that…Or at least try out your 15-minutes-a-day plan. That might be more feasible.

      Baby steps, right? πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

    • Kay Kauffman says:

      Thank you! I have to admit, I’ve been a little surprised by the response this post has gotten – it seems a lot of people out there are struggling with this. And maybe it’s not even really about writing, but about struggling with things in general, especially after the election. Whatever the reason, I’m glad this post has resonated with so many people, and I hope you’re able to move forward with your writing, blogging, and anything else you have on your to-do list. You can do it! πŸ™‚

      Also? That was a fantastic pun. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  17. patrj91 says:

    Whenever I lose hope of never being able to fill plot holes, what my next chapter will be about, or even just thinking of a character’s name, I go for a run. I trained for a marathon this fall and I can’t even imagine how I would have came up with most of my ideas to my story if I didn’t do the marathon. Everytime I would lose hope, a perfect idea that would just fit to my story would spontaneously pop into my head. It was incredible! I recommend finding an activity that helps you like that.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Kay Kauffman says:

      That’s a good idea! πŸ™‚ I’m not a runner, but I do enjoy going for walks, and I don’t do nearly enough of that. I used to come up with ideas on my drive to and from work every day, but I’ve had the radio on in the car most of the time lately, and it’s much more distracting than it was when I was younger. Then again, sometimes it’s just the thing I need to get my creative juices flowing. πŸ™‚

      Also, kudos on the marathon! It takes an amazing amount of dedication to train for something like that, and I am duly impressed. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      • patrj91 says:

        Yea honestly with my experience with writing lyrics and my new experience in writing a book, just don’t force it. The best ideas are the ones that just come to you. You just need to figure out what gets the creative juices flowing haha. Thank you! I appreciate it.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Kay Kauffman says:

          Every time I’ve tried to force it, I REALLY hated what I came up with. I try to just take things as they come because it takes the time that it takes, but I’m not the most patient person sometimes.

          Okay, a lot of the time. πŸ˜€

          Like

          • patrj91 says:

            Yep I totally agree. Right now I’m doing NaNoWriMo and I’ve loved everything that just came to me as I went. Now I’m struggling with the ending and forcing so much and it all sounds awful but I don’t have the time to sit down and plot because NaNoWriMo sucks lol. So I’m just struggling along, trying to get 50,000 so I can finally relax and let things come naturally.

            Liked by 2 people

          • patrj91 says:

            Haha I always thought endings would be the easiest since that’s the climax. But that’s not the case at all! Thank you, I hope you get your creativity back! It will always come and go so don’t lose hope.

            Liked by 2 people

          • Kay Kauffman says:

            Mine always seem to be a little rushed, which is easy to do, I think. Good luck getting yours to work! πŸ™‚

            And thanks! I think we could all use a little hope right now, especially with the end of NaNo in sight! πŸ™‚

            Like

  18. Sue Marquis Bishop says:

    Keep writing. You clearly have much you want to say. Just start anywhere and write it out. As Eric Hoffer said, don’t worry about editing your work or how it sound when you are in writing flow of first draft. Just write. You are not alone. Been there. Womenlivinglifeafter50.com

    Liked by 3 people

  19. Beep Toot says:

    This is a nice post! But i think you are more than your writing. You can’t define it as who you are but rather you define what it is. I think you have every right to be afraid, because it is something you’ve revolved yourself around. But things don’t happen within your realm of control. Sometimes things will surprise you 10 years later after you’ve lived, explored and wondered the world a lot more, but you shouldn’t be fearful. Things demand to come in their own time. And writing… Oh it demands time. You just have ti trust it.

    – Beep Toot

    Like

    • Kay Kauffman says:

      I am much more than my writing, it’s true, but writing is the one thing that’s been more or less a constant in my life. I lived for music and photography, too, once upon a time, but I don’t take pictures like I used to and I can’t remember the last time I picked up my flute.

      As for wandering the world, though, I think the time for that has passed me by. At any rate, it will be a long time before I have the time (or the funds) for that kind of adventuring.

      Like

  20. katiemdean says:

    I totally understand what it feels like to have a long period of writer’s block. Writing is how I stay sane, as well, so I understand when you say you feel a void or lost. How else are we supposed to stay sane in this crazy world than create beautiful stories that we can disappear into? But never be afraid. Remember that someone out there needs to hear your story. Someone out there will love the characters you create. You will be someone’s favorite writer/author someday. Never be afraid, because you will change at least one life with your writing, and it’s okay if that life is yours. That’s honestly the only thing that keeps me writing.
    On my blog I post inspirational quotes about writing that have helped me along the way. Maybe you should check it out; it might help πŸ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

  21. petercmurray26 says:

    Kay, I read this and I am struck about how often I have felt this way. I am currently writing a television series, but on episode four of my Science Fiction tale, I have become blocked. What I do when this happens is that I read a lot. I read anything to come up with an idea to write about. The worst thing in the world is writers block, because yes you do have those doubts. You think you’re not good enough, but then I watch a really good movie, or television series and it reminds me of why I started this. I have had two plays produced and both were a huge achievement for me. Both were well received and I knew I would write more. Keep going. As I said if you are devoid of ideas, read, it can be the slightest article that sets me off, because maybe there is something in that article that kicks an idea off. Listen to people talking, because when you listen to others have conversations, suddenly something will kick off. Most of all, sometimes it helps to read others material for a while. I know that can be daunting, because that worm gets in your head. What if they write better than I do. They don’t write better than you do, they write differently. Everyone has a voice. The important thing is to make that idea, breathe and sing to the masses. I hope this helped. I hope you don’t mind if I follow you, because I’ve been where you have been and somehow I always spring back up and start writing again, because I love it.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. michaelulinedwards says:

    A rest is natural. No one can pump one story after another. The curiosity and intellect don’t work that way. Whatever you read and watch, be sure it is the best human beings have had to offer. Blogs are a sin because they allow writers to nose around to learn what other human beings, somewhat like them, are doing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kay Kauffman says:

      I don’t know that blogging is a sin. I’ve been inspired by other people’s blog posts more times than I can count. Sadly, that inspiration has been wasted more often than not this year, but I suppose it could be worse.

      Lately I’ve found music to be a big inspiration. What inspires you?

      Like

      • michaelulinedwards says:

        Music can be inspiring, if I’m writing about music or something related. But I’m at an age, and I sometimes find myself within a story, where complete quiet is needed. I’m left staring into a vacuous future, expecting nothing to come from my mind. Writing a draft of the last novel was like that. It took seven months. Having produced 40,000 words, I realized what the story could be. The whole thing needs rewriting.
        Currently, I’m reading.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Kay Kauffman says:

          Sometimes I find music distracting when I’m writing, but usually only if there are words. I listen to a lot of classical music when I write, although lately I’ve also been listening to a lot of Ravi Shankar. It’s very calming, and I need that right now.

          Good luck with your rewrite! At least you only got 40k in before you decided to rework things. I was 100k into mine when I decided to rework it. It was the right choice, but now I have one story that’s ~100k and needs a lot more work, and one story that’s ~50k and needs expanding. I have higher hopes for the second one because it uas a recognizable beginning, middle, and end. The first one…not so much.

          Like

          • michaelulinedwards says:

            Whoa! A rewrite at 100+, unless you can use a crutch like I did because the book was chronological, can be overbearing.
            You are correct. I stopped short because I got tired of writing nonsense. But I know I may add 12 or 15,000 words – it’s a detective story.
            I believe it preferable to underwrite, although for myself on the first draft, I know I have to put down every damned last word on every topic pertinent or apertinent to the writing.

            Like

  23. Nick says:

    I totally relate to this! It’s like sometimes I just don’t have the willpower to sit down and push the words out of my imagination. The thing is, I think, is that you can’t force yourself to write. It has to come willingly, maybe all you need is a little inspiration? Awesome post!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Kay Kauffman says:

      Thank you! I’m glad this resonated with you. I think you’re absolutely right about not forcing it – every time I force things, I find myself very unhappy with the result. Of course, lately, I find myself unhappy with the results whether I’m forcing the words out of my fingers or not, but I think that may be beside the point.

      I’m glad you enjoyed my rambly little post, and I hope ypu have a happy new year! Thanks for stopping by! πŸ™‚

      Like

  24. reallyhateblogging says:

    You started off saying that you had ideas but forgot them as soon as you wanted to write them down. I have this too, most of my ideas come to me at night and by the next morning, they are forgotten. To keep my ideas I have started a notebook. I like my notebook to be really neat and if the ideas are written in the dark I just write them on a scrap piece of paper and then properly write them up the next morning.
    Maybe that will help you, it helps me!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kay Kauffman says:

      I have the same problem. It’s gotta be a writer thing. And you’d think by now I’d have learned how to ignore the voice of laziness that says I don’t need to write it down because I’ll remember. I NEVER remember, ever. πŸ˜€

      Liked by 1 person

  25. Gin says:

    Always procrastinating over here! And every single cell in my body is screaming “write damn you!!’
    Sometimes I choose to ignore it and when I do I have this black cloud of guilt suffocating me.
    Just keep writing. Never stop 😊

    Liked by 2 people

    • Kay Kauffman says:

      Same here! I’ve had the urge to write quite a bit lately, but every time I sit down to do it, I wind up distracted by other things (kids, coworkers, chores, you name it). I feel guilty for not writing then, but I also feel guilty ignoring chores. I have an overdeveloped sense of guilt, I think. πŸ™‚

      Like

  26. Nerdy_BeachBum says:

    Why not just write? Even if it’s crap, just write. Let your mind flow and eventually everything might just come back giving you everything you want and more. Keep your head up. It’s a passion, it might be lost at the moment, but it’s not gone forever. It’s nice to know that other people have the same struggles, but NEVEr give up.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kay Kauffman says:

      Workin’ on it! It’s like waking up from a long nap, you know? Everything’s all rusty and grinding and the gears are just starting to spin again, but they’re creaky and shrieky, like nails on a chalkboard. I’m feeling the whole new-year-new-you vibe at the moment, or rather the new-year-much-older-than-you-really-want-to-admit-you vibe, and writing is definitely something I need to get back to this year.

      What about you? Are you the resolution-making kind, or the let’s-just-see-where-things-go kind?

      Like

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