When the words won’t come

by Joanna on September 12, 2007

I was all written out on Sunday – a burst of creativity left me writing on thistles and spikes, publishing my piece on ‘realising the power of our words’ at Joyful Jubilant Learning, and then conjuring up a (slightly different, for me anyway) post comparing that writing experience with the process of making plum chutney.

Monday morning and I couldn’t write a word.  Couldn’t face it, in fact I could hardly face looking at the PC.  By the evening time I was able to ‘plug in’ again, but I still couldn’t write.  I had a whole list of possible posts written down and some of them 90% drafted.  But I just couldn’t make myself write.

And, to be honest, I didn’t want to.  Didn’t want to force myself to do something that I enjoy, that’s a pleasure.  Didn’t want to write something here because I felt I ‘should’.  I knew that would change the way I felt about my words.  Knew it would change the impact on you, reading them.

So I filled my scheduled writing time with other things instead, like:

  • Doodling ideas for new business products in Princes Street Gardens, in glorious near-burning September sunshine
  • Reading other people’s writing, including the entries to the What Have I Learned from Change project
  • Talking to a good friend about all things coaching - and the bits that go with it: marketing, branding, promoting, networking, communicating; sharing experiences on the bits we struggle with, the bits we avoid, the bits we enjoy, the bits we love with a passion
  • Mingling – no, not at a party :-) but around the blogosphere.  Commenting is such a great way of keeping the conversation going, even when you’ve no words left to start your own

That’s how I handled Monday’s mood.  I’m sure there are other things I could have tried too.  What do you do when the words won’t come?

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Robert Hruzek 09.12.07 at 2:12 pm

The times when I find I have nothing to say… I go read a book, or do something physical, like mow the lawn or something. We’ve all been there, Joanna. The key thing when it happens (and it will!) is to not be afraid as some might, as if they fear they’re creativity has left them high and dry for good! Hey, it happens; it passes. Sounds like you did good during the interim. :-)

Joanna Young 09.12.07 at 4:46 pm

Hi Robert, you’re right, doing something like gardening, cleaning the floor, going for a walk - anything that gets you moving can help to get the words to flow.

Even then you can’t force it - as you say the trick is not to be afraid of the dry spell, and trust that it will pass.


April Groves 09.12.07 at 10:24 pm

Ugh - I hate it when this happens. I know it is because I am exhausted or stressed. When these things happen, I can’t out together clear thoughts - writing or otherwise. Usually, I just need a nap :) Hubby usually takes over and lets that happen!

Joanna Young 09.13.07 at 8:43 am

Hi April

That’s another good suggestion. It was such a beautiful day here on Monday I wouldn’t have wanted to go inside to nap - but it’s a great strategy for a cold grey day (and we have lots of those!)


Robert Hruzek 09.13.07 at 9:33 pm

I think what irritates me the most is when I actually try to set time aside for writing - that’s when everything seems to dry up! Most of my inspiration comes while doing something else.

The key, I find, is to have a few ideas jotted down so when I sit down to actually write, I have the springboard I need to get started.

Now, I just have to remember to carry some means of recording my ideas with me at all times…

Joanna Young 09.13.07 at 9:55 pm

Hmm, Robert, you’re reminding me of a different problem I have - what to do when the words do come, ‘cos chances are they’re demanding attention at an inconvenient hour (which means scribbled notes all over the place) or sometime in the middle of the night…


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