#januwordy: Writing When the Words Won’t Come

On its surface, the mantra “write everyday” makes sense. Make writing a habit. It doesn’t matter what you write about, just write. It builds the writing “muscles”. 

But I’ve never been any good at it. It takes just a quick glance at the archives here to see I’ve never been a model blogger. Consistent, predictable post frequency has never been my strong suit. Over the last few years in particular, I’ve been sporadic at best.

It’s not so much about finding the time. The time is there if I wanted it. It’s about finding the focus and the followthrough.

Some days I want to write, but there are too many ideas competing. I might start with one, but then it fizzles. It didn’t have as much fuel as I thought. Or I try to bring together a couple of things that seem connected in my head, but I just can’t seem to thread them together eloquently.

Other times I find that I need more preparation, more time. I need to read up on a topic to give it the treatment I desire. I worry about being wrong or expressing myself clumsily.

The folder of forgotten drafts speaks volumes about these scenarios.

Then there are the days like this, when I’ve set aside a time to write and nothing clicks. The prompts don’t spark ideas that I want to actually pursue. I try to think of something else to write on, to recall one of the topics from the collection when I’ve had competing ideas, just to find my mind blank. I might even look back to electronic notes I’ve jotted down of things I once considered exploring, but I find no interest in delving into them today, or maybe ever.

So I stare at a blank screen a while. Maybe I wander to Feedly or Twitter, perhaps hoping some inspiration will hit there but knowing that’s unlikely to happen. My head—or maybe it’s my heart—just isn’t in it that day.

The difference today is that I made some unspoken commitment to myself to write more, to reconnect with this act that has, in the past, brought me joy and clarity.

I’ve written 350 words about the Step 1 challenge of writing. That’s not even all the words I’ve written today. A hundred others were typed and deleted before these. There’s a hesitation even to post these.

Perhaps the only reason that I’ll hit that Publish button today is that indistinct pledge I made and some sense that putting this into the ether will make me a little more accountable to it tomorrow. It’s certainly not perfection. I’m not sure that it’s even progress. But it’s something, and maybe that’s all I need to keep the momentum going forward. Or maybe it stalls out tomorrow, but that’s not the work for today.

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