What To Do When The Writing Dries Up

This summer has been brutal. Exceedingly so. If you’d like to read about it, go here, otherwise save yourself some misery and continue on.

I have a confession to make: because of what was going on up there, I haven’t written a single word since the end of June. It’s not so much writer’s block as much as it’s been a writer’s sabbatical. I suppose I could call it anything, including laziness, but naming my lapse a sabbatical sounds so much more forgiving.

What have I been doing in the meantime? I mean, besides worrying about many things, including wondering if I’ll ever put another good idea down on paper? Lots of things. Many things many writers could try doing if they find themselves in a similar logjam of non productiveness.

1. I worked out. Physically, I mean. I ran every day. EVERY DAY. I know, I can’t even believe it myself. I forced myself upon my NordicTrack and pushed and pushed. Running (or fast walking, which is mostly what I do) makes your body breathe in regular intervals, not in gasping breaths. While I on my incline trainer, I emptied my mind. Or tried to. The jury is out on how successful I was.

2. I read. A lot. If you can’t write, you might as well read others’ writing. Luckily, I am never in need of books; my To Read pile is now more than a mountain, it’s a mountain range. Reading keeps the brain engaged. While reading, you are less likely to worry about your own situation, you’re taking a dip into another world. That’s what I need right now, other worlds.

3. I cleaned. Yes, I purged. Might as well, right? I wasn’t getting any writing done, and the energy had to be disbursed somewhere. While cleaning the basement (which hasn’t been cleaned since 2004, when we moved here), I located my old notebooks of poems and other writings. So it was win-win-win situation. Plus, I hope to make some serious garage sale cash next weekend.

4. I worked with my hands. Gardening, making jewelry. It’s been mostly too wet to garden, and my mind is too consumed with problems to make any jewelry of real import. But… the type of jewelry I make depends on many small parts. I used this fallow writing time to construct a lot of small parts. When the creative juice kicks in once again, I’ll be good to go.

My days of non-writing are drawing to a close. A true writer never stops writing and really never has a block. My last sabbatical lasted 20 years, and I know this one won’t take that long. I know in order to get out of any funk, you have to force yourself into action, and that’s what I’m doing today. I have a book of writing prompts and I’m going to start at page one and work myself as far as it will take for me to pick up writing again.

Sometimes you have to kick yourself in the ass when your writing dries up.


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