When the Words Just Aren't There
Updated: Apr 6
Writing can be tough. It has been often imparted to me that if you do a thing you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. I’ve learned to seriously question that sentiment and to wonder if the person that came up with the saying ever actually did a thing that they loved— because it is work! It’s hard work. Sometimes hours, days, weeks, months, years of hard, tedious work. I’m not saying this to complain or to say that working in a field that you love isn’t worth it. My point is that it takes effort. And even with all of that effort, there are times when it seems like the words or the story just aren't there. What do you do in those times?
A word of advice that I’ve received a time or three is that: As a writer, one should write every single day. My eyes became wide the first time I heard this advice. It sounded so unattainable to a novice writer! And though it seemed like a daunting task, I made the decision to try it anyway.
As I sat quietly in front of a blank page, rocking back and forth in my chair, and finding random things on my desk that I suddenly felt the immediate need to reorganize, I realized that the words weren’t coming to me. I was frustrated by this and also a little embarrassed. How was I to become a writer if I couldn’t even manage the simple task of writing every day? What kind of artist doesn’t practice their craft daily? Why did I ever have the bold idea of becoming a writer?
I was convinced that I was doing life wrong and the fact that the words weren’t there meant that I had been mistaken, that writing wasn’t really for me.
Not quick to give up (and I highly recommend not giving up on whatever career or passion one might have), I went back to one of those three people that had given me the advice to write every day and simply asked: How?
A simple question on its own, but a great one to ask when you are trying to accomplish a new goal. I asked how and then proceeded to ask other writers their methods as well. I tried them all and I want to share what has worked for me:
- Schedule 30 mins within your day to write. It doesn't matter if you only get one paragraph, one sentence or one word on the page, just take the time.
- Take in a television show or a movie (at home during this time) or listen to a podcast. It may seem counterintuitive, but you never know what will spark a new idea or a new area that you want to explore in a literary sense.
- Exercise in some way. Movement tends to move the mind, bringing newness to your writing.
- Keep trying, but don't become upset with yourself. Becoming upset won't help the words come to mind or progress your work. More than likely, you'll just end up frustrated and even less motivated to write.
Lastly, the most important tip I can give is to believe in your talent. Approach the task of writing as if you have already reached your dream career level. Write like the professional writer that you see yourself as. Visualization and effort are key!