I haven’t written a word for five days now. Well, technically, that’s not quite accurate. I have been writing these words, and others, for the blog. I have been writing work words and even they don’t count, they do count, if you see what I mean. But I haven’t written any novel words, or words for my novels for five days now. Nor any script words. Not that I’m counting. Much.
200 Words a Day
I normally write 200 words per day. Or at least try to. That’s my goal. Those of you who have been following my journey will remember that I first developed this habit whilst completing my doctorate. 200 words a day. Of course, this comes with a safety net. I sometimes write more. I sometimes write less. I am able enough to manage with the times when I don’t achieve this ideal, that’s the point of the ideal, after all. This morning I’m fine with not writing. Luckily, I learned a long time ago not to be too hard on myself when I wasn’t writing. But I do prefer to writing all the same.
That Lovely Place Between Words
When this happens to me I imagine that I am in that lovely place between words. That quiet gentle space where things form and other things fade as their need to form is not needed. We are all in this place. Or have been. Or will be. Sometimes we are here for a while. Other times, not so long. The time it takes to finish a sentence. Or weld three sentences to form a paragraph. For eight paragraphs to become that final chapter. Other times the time it takes for the words to begin again.
I have been in this lovely place for five days now. I am fine with this. I am simply waiting for that next …
Are you there too?
It happens. It really does. It happens to all of us. Now and again. Once in a while. Every day. All the time. There are just times when we can’t write. Just can’t find the words. Or write a sentence and then delete it. A paragraph? A page? Entire sections.
We. Can’t. Write.
And so what do we do? What do you do? Me? I dig deep. I recall and remember those other times when I felt like this, when my words wouldn’t come. No matter how hard I tried. I picture those other times when I couldn’t get the words to form sentences. It used to happen a lot to me. I used to find it quite distressing, putting undue pressure on myself and then feeling like I had failed. But when it happens now I think about three things:
- A sentence today is a paragraph tomorrow. I can write. I have written before. I will write again. I will be satisfied with anything I can manage, even a single sentence. I will do everything I can to stop feeling bad about my (apparent) lack of progress. And then try again tomorrow.
- Sometimes you just can’t stop. We’ve all been there, in the flow, words forming sentences forming paragraphs. And when we’re in the flow it feels like we will never stop again. And when I can’t write I picture this flow and remember the warmth of the rush.
- My house was built brick by brick. In most situations, once the foundations are in place, building a house means laying brick upon brick upon brick. Writing is the same. Only in very rare circumstances do people complete novels in one go. Most of the time, we build our stories and our worlds brick by brick. This way, we can focus on the wall in front of us and not the roof that isn’t there yet.
What do you do when you can’t write?