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What to do when the words won't come
Trying to find my voice after again after a long, silent stretch
For me, writing is often this weird combination of passion and obligation. When inspiration strikes and I get an idea for a story, my fingers fly across the keyboard getting the words onto the screen as quickly as I can type them. When writing is fueled by passion it feels easy, quick, effortless, and even fun.
But lately, writing has felt more like an obligation. Over the last few months, I have struggled to know what to share in this space. I keep waiting for inspiration to strike, but nothing seems to happen. So, instead of forcing it, I’ve just stopped writing.
I know this is not what I should do. Writing is like a muscle—to build it you have to use it, preferably a little bit every day. But right now, anytime I try to exercise my writing muscle, I feel fatigued, with brain fog and apathy quickly setting in.
It can wait, I tell myself.
What would I even say? I wonder.
Nothing exciting is happening in my life, so why bother, I conclude.
I’ve tried analyzing the why behind my word drought, and honestly, it isn’t hard to connect the dots to how I got here.
I spent the better part of a year writing my first book, only to add the responsibility of writing, editing, and publishing another book before my own book was released. While working on these projects, I launched a publishing company with two author friends to help other authors get their books published. In dreaming and developing these ideas, I spent hours writing, planning, and posting on social media in hopes of these projects having some amount of success. And you know what? They did! Book sales were strong and we signed a handful of new authors to our small but growing publishing house. While I was working hard at launching these projects, the work was fun and exciting, and I had the passion to pursue them.
Then, just as soon as these projects were out of the incubator and thriving in the real world, I started a “real job” (not to be confused with my job of being an author/publisher—that one isn’t paying the bills just yet). I quickly found myself working full-time for a large, multinational corporation where I was tasked with overseeing communications for their North American division. I was thankful for the opportunity (and the income), and there was plenty of writing that came with the work, but it lacked passion. (I’m not sure how passionate one can be writing employee emails about changes to a cafeteria payment system.) Writing now felt like an obligation, like a job I did because I had to do it, not because I wanted to.
For the last few months, this is where I’ve been: writing out of obligation. And while I’m thankful for a good job, I feel like a part of it is sucking the soul out of my writing. Words feel more like a chore or a to-do list, not like a piece of clay waiting to be molded into something unique or individual.
When I go to a museum and I see painting after painting by some prolific artist like Monet or Matisse, I’m left with the impression that these artists must have had a constant flow of creativity from their fingertips. Seeing the volumes of work they produced in their lifetime makes me think they probably never struggled with “painters” block.
But I know that can’t be true. Surely the masters likely had seasons where their paints likely dried up due to a lack of passion. Right?
I’ve asked God to help me find my words again, to re-discover the passion for sharing my life (and His imprint on it) through writing. I’m starting to see glimpses of something resembling that passion, but I’m nowhere close to where I want to be.
And even though the words don’t come as easily these days, I keep showing up to the laptop screen, to the blinking cursor, to the blank page staring back, waiting patiently for me to paint my words upon its canvas.
Slowly but surely, I know with time, rest, and giving myself some grace, the words will come again. They might not be a masterpiece, but that’s okay. There is something so beautiful about the art of storytelling that I know I cannot stay silent forever.
A toolkit for aspiring authors
Recently, our publishing company, The Unknown Authors Club, had the opportunity to contribute our book, The Life of an Unknown Author, to a packet of writing and publishing resources as part of Infostack’s Write Publish Profit 6.0 kit.
The kit includes more than 33 writing resources and tools that are designed to help aspiring authors with common writing challenges like editing, marketing, self-publishing, and more. If you’re looking for answers to your writing and publishing challenges, I’d encourage you to check it out here.
The last laugh…
Recently our family spent a week in Colorado, a place that is very near and dear to us. There’s just something about being in the mountains that brings a sense of peace and quiet to my heart.
With all the years we’ve spent in the mountains, we’ve seen a lot of interesting animals. Foxes, deer, loads of chipmunks, marmot, and plenty of beautiful birds. But we’ve never seen the big two — a bear and a moose.
On our last night at the house, we were sitting around the living room trying to decide what to eat for dinner. One of the teens in our group stood up to go do something and glanced outside as she did. Suddenly her eyes grew big as she pointed toward the window and half-whispered/half-squealed, “There’s a moose!”
Naturally, we all got up from the living room to press our faces against the glass and watch as this incredible creature enjoyed an evening snack of Aspen leaves.
I realize some people see creatures like moose on the regular because you happen to live in a part of the world where they do too. But for me, a city girl who lives in a hot, flat, treeless place called North Texas, it was amazing to see this beautiful creature in the wild and the perfect way to end our week.
Now all that’s left on my Colorado wildlife bucket list is a bear. I’ll have to wait until next summer to see if I get to check that one off my list. And as much as I’d love to see one in the wild, I do hope there’s a bit of glass between us when I do. :-)