When I left the WordSpring writing conference in April I was so inspired to write. As the days went on I took down a few “glimmers”, as Pam Houston suggested in her workshop, and wrote down a lot of what seemed to be great beginnings but my enthusiasm quickly fizzled out. I had left with such high hopes for brilliant creative writing and yet, nothing.
Writing. On any given day we find ourselves confronted with situations or scenes that are noteworthy enough to write about. Why is it, then, that those of us who call ourselves writers find ourselves so often stuck with seemingly nothing at all to say? I was thinking about this today on my hour long drive to a study group with two young women twenty years my junior. They are attending UC Davis. They got in and were accepted just out of high school. Meanwhile, I am over here in my early forties still struggling to finish up my community college education to transfer to University. I came to a realization that the reason I don’t sit at my computer and just start typing away or continue with what I am writing is the overwhelming fear of inadequacy. There is something so raw about spilling your guts in written form that we protect ourselves right out of developing that amazing piece of work that must be shared with the world. As writers we are the absolutely most harsh critics of our own work. I know many writers who will procrastinate until an absolute deadline seemingly paralyzed with fear. I am one of them.
I was challenged today. I was called to the mat by someone I respect for not having written a single non- academic related thing in a very long time. When I thought about it I realized that I had to think about what the reason I specifically needed to write. I could blame it on having nothing inspired to say or that there is just nothing to write about, knowing, of course, this was completely false. I have plenty of inner commentary floating around in my head all day that I could feed a daily column- if I just had the courage to write it. I have dozens of stories with just a few paragraphs begun and never finished because I am so afraid no one is going to want to read it that I convince myself it wasn’t exactly a story worth telling in the first place.
Writing inspiration is in everything and is everywhere, every day. The trick is in allowing ourselves as writers to write and to stop worrying about who will read it. We can blame writer’s block, or say that we have no time, or make up a myriad of other excuses. Until we let go and write without fear instead of worrying about what people want to hear nothing will change. We will linger in the creative abyss that we create for ourselves. It’s a little like breaking wind and blaming the dog. Everyone knows what’s really going on anyway.
So as writer I challenge you, worry less about creating the perfect piece of work and just listen to your inner monologue in everyday life to tell the great story that is meandering around inside your brain. Let it grow and evolve until it takes it’s first breath and you can see it coming to life. I mean in the end if you still aren’t writing, you can always just blame the dog. Just make sure you write about it.