writer’s lament

writer's blockI’ve been trying to write a post all morning. Trying to reach deep within and pull out something deep and meaningful to which you might all relate. I’ve been thinking about black and white and gray and how I don’t believe in gray and how that is why I know religion doesn’t matter: We all know right from wrong. But instead of flowing like a waterfall, my thoughts are congested spillway blocked by matters of immediate importance: I’m stressed. Interviews and new tutoring positions (I’ve recently been signed on as a kids’ tutor at several companies in the Bay Area) are on my mind, not to mention bills and dreams and exercise things. It’s harder to ride my bike in Berkeley. I miss it.

And so I reach and fall and try and bail and am reminded of a poem I wrote more than a year ago:

I’m reaching and falling.
I’m hemming and hawing.
I’m trying and failing.
I’m rowing, now bailing.

Another day.

And I wonder if this ever happens to you? And I wonder how authors do it? Writing comes so easily to me when my subject is on my mind. But when it’s not? Writing is like pulling teeth, only worse, because I want SO badly to do it, and do it well.


38 thoughts

  1. I completely understand your plight. It’s like when the inspiration is there, you can write for miles and miles, but when you just can’t find your footing, you feel like you’ve lost grasp of the English language. I think it comes with the territory of trying to write for someone else and not just yourself, though I think you do a stellar job at it. :-)

    • “…when you just can’t find your footing, you feel like you’ve lost grasp of the English language.” Haha. Yep, yep, yep! So very true!! You are right that it comes with the territory of trying to write for an audience. Some people have encouraged me to sit down and just “write for myself,” but the truth is that whenever most of us do that, it comes out sounding like a page out of a journal — and no one wants to read that!

      Thanks for the encouragement, Taryn. Means a lot. Hope you’re having a great week!

  2. Here’s to your busy work life disturbances settling soon, and finding that time of calm to write in..writing a little, even fragments, as maintenance, to hear your writing voice in singular words and phrases, and to experience / listen to life a while without writing it all down right away; journaling briefly in longhand on what comes to you when it comes to you during this busy doing-experiencing time, and putting it all together later…not in run-on sentences like the one I just wrote. (0:

    • I like your run-on sentences, Mike. And actually, I finally got a really great ride in today. :) Will write about it shortly. And thank you for the wishes that my life will settle down soon so I can find more dedicated time to write. Boy do I hope so!

  3. Sometimes you just have to write what’s on your mind and whether or not your readers can relate is beyond you. I know that everyone says good writing is relatable, but that’s completely subjective: those to whom you will relate will already relate without any effort on your part.
    When you’re in a funk or a rut or a whatever you’re in, Jessica, those are the times to simply get it out without over thinking it. :)

    • Thanks, Matt. And I know you’re right. I absolutely believe that you have to write what’s on your mind. That’s when my best posts come to me, anyway. You’re also right that those to whom you already relate will easily relate to “whatever’s on your mind,” but I also believe that really great writers have an ability to put out work to which many people will relate — at least in part.

      • I believe what makes really great writers is the fact that they don’t really think about their audience when they’re sitting down to write. We often think a great writer puts out work that they think others will find interesting…as you say. But some of the best literature is simple and mundane because readers rarely get a chance to experience the “images of normalcy.” So just write whatever comes to you…you might be surprised how many people positively respond to your writing.

      • Thank you, Vikki. That’s good advice. My best writing comes straight from the heart. You have to be honest or your readers will see right through you, and when you’re being honest, well… There’s not much to concern yourself with re: your audience, anyway. You are writing for you!

      • I wouldn’t say you’re wrong about that, Jessica; I think you are absolutely right on the money there. But when you’re frustrating yourself because you can’t quite make the subject relatable to the masses, that shouldn’t mean it’s not worth saying at all. :)

  4. Just because we love something doesn’t mean it won’t cause us great heartache. That’s what I tell myself when I have writers block.

    • Glad to know I’m not the only one who’s experienced this, Carol! And you’re right that the words usually *do* seem to come back at just the right time…

  5. i can relate! sometimes writing is like pulling teeth for me too. you’re certainly not alone. some days are easier than others, where words flow out like water. other days are tumultous and require weeks of brainstorming and editing. i do agree with others who’ve said before, that if you write daily, your writing gets a little easier (and it improves too). don’t give up, keep on hacking away. =)

    • Thank you, Sophia! I know. Writing definitely comes easier for me when I do it more regularly. When I let weeks pass without writing on my blog, it is definitely harder the next time I try to write. How easily writing comes to me also has to do with the topic and with what’s on my mind… Glad to know I’m not alone at least. Thank you for the encouragement!

  6. writing is art. Art does not adhere to the whims, timing and rules of man. Find beauty in every thing, for beauty is in every thing.

    love your poem.

    • Thank you, Chris. I liked that poem, too, when I wrote it. And I fully agree that there is beauty in everything, if we look for it. Hope you’re well!

  7. Congrats on your being a tutor! I hope it’s working out well for you, maybe even taking your mind off some bills. I’m with you on writing too – I want to write posts that I feel passionate about and others can find some meaning in them. At work I feel so motivated to write, ideas coming left and right, but when I get home and sit down to write…nothing comes. It’s so hard and writing feels forced.

    But I agree with the other commenters – write what comes to mind. Let the tiniest bit of our creativity be our guide and see where it takes us. You never know :)

    • You’re right, Mabel. You never know… Some of my posts that I haven’t though would do well really took off, while others posts I slaved over because I thought it was a good, relatable idea really didn’t. Usually the posts that come to me quickly and easily turn out best. Great writing comes from passion.

      Yes, the tutoring jobs are good so far, but I’m still looking for more full-time work. I will keep you all updated when something finally works out! Hope you’ve been well!

  8. When you get off a routine and there is all this stress in life, it seems doing anything is a chore…but you still gotta do it, and struggle through it. Don’t know if there is a more difficult thing to do. Be it exercise, finding work, writing…slogging through it is going to create that new foundation leading to something great. At least that is my hope :-) Don’t fret too much, sunny days are ahead.

    • Thanks, Randall. I know you’re right. I am looking forward to settling into some sort of routine where blogging/writing can be put back in its place of priority. Lately I’ve been letting it slide.

      Glad you know how I feel!

  9. I saw this quote in Time magazine this morning and thought of you and what you’ve been writing the last few days. It’s from a profile of author Barbara Brown Taylor, whose book “Learning to Walk in the Dark” was recently reviewed in a different issue of Time. (I haven’t read the book.)

    “If you are in the dark, it does not mean that you have failed and that you have taken some terrible misstep. For many years, I thought my questions and my doubt and my sense of God’s absence were all signs of my lack of faith, but now I know this is the way the life of the spirit goes.”

  10. A lot of bloggers have been writing about their blocks, so there are others in the same boat… or cruise ship… with you. Just be careful what you eat or drink, you don’t want to get sick.

    It’s been tough here as well. It’s good to know that Every little bit helps,even if the post is simply a picture. Your blog has a fairly open theme, so writing about anything is the name of the game.

    The block will crumble sooner than you think. Stephen KIng generates ideas in the shower; it’s understood that the warm water and sound can be so relaxing to lull you into brainstorming. Fresh air, going for a walk or run, also helps.

    • All good advice, Christopher. I exercise outdoors all the time and it does help. And you’re right that writer’s often write about writers’ block. Funny how our stumbling block can become our topic!

      Thank you for the encouragement. Means a lot. Hope you’re having a great day!

  11. Art is not mass produced and can not roll out on an assembly line. It arrives when it is inspired.

    Hope that helps! I tell myself this as I sit on the computer trying to make a post but I am playing some second rate game on Facebook.

    • Thanks, Steve. You’re right. Art comes from inspiration.

      You’ve been posting a heck of a lot more frequently than me, though. I have so many of your posts to catch up on! I know you wrote your awesome story…

      • I finally wrote some of it…a condensed version. It was good to write some of it out though.

        As far as my streak is concerned, I have been having a tiny bit more of free time so some extra writing has been in order.

        Well, hope all is well out there…

  12. I’m having the exact same feeling this week. Because my mind is on a looming 20th highschool anniversary. I can’t write about that, but I also can’t imagine another topic anyone would be interested to read (let alone one that I am interested to write!). Perhaps I will go for a walk – that may help. Like your poem!

  13. I too have had days when I want to tear my hair apart. You strive and strive and strive to write something. But the funny thing about writing is that sometimes the inspiration to write comes to you in very, very strange ways. Sometimes for beautifully simple reason such as hearing the right song at the right moment. So just hang in there. :) I’m sure you’ll come up with a deep and meaningful post soon. You always have. :)

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