“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.
You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.” —Eleanor Roosevelt
I have been dealing with writer’s block lately, like so many writers do. Sometimes I think creativity is like a grain of sand in the middle of the desert. When all is calm, the grains sit there storing up energy. Then the winds begin, stirring up the grains, and creativity comes to life as the grains move and re-form, taking on new shapes in new places. I’m telling myself that at this time the grains of sand in my own personal desert are at rest, but soon the energy will burst forth on the wings of the wind and I’ll be able to write again.
For several summers I attended the International Women’s Writing Guild’s summer conference at Skidmore where I took classes from other women writers who had successful careers and had published novels or poetry or drama or memoir. The best class I took was from Alice Orr. She presented great lessons in writing, but her best advice was to write for at least an hour every day, without ever taking a day off. I took her advice because I had been working on a young adult novel for many months but it wasn’t finished. When the session ended, I went home, bought a special pen and grid notebooks, and set to work for an hour every night. I was teaching at the time and it wasn’t easy, but I finished the novel only because she taught me how.
I wish I had her in front of me now, nudging me into writing daily. Sometimes I try to convince myself that I am working at writing because I am thinking about what to write or thinking about what is wrong with something I have already written. I read blogs and am awed by those writers who blog daily. How do they do that, I wonder. How does that happen? Their discipline and drive and creativity convince me even more of my own inadequacy. The thing about writing, however, is that it is very addictive. It’s not like one can really give it up. But calm does settle over the desert until the stormy winds start up and ideas are born. I’m waiting today in the stillness.