Generally I’ve found this to be true: I have forced myself to begin writing when I’ve been utterly exhausted, when I’ve felt my soul as thin as a playing card, when nothing has seemed worth enduring for another five minutes…and somehow the activity of writing changes everythingJoyce Carol Oates
What do you do when those tried and true tricks to jolt your writing heart to begin ticking again, falter, and then fails to beat with any sort of rhythm. Those horrible times when it doesn’t seem likely you can resuscitate your writing practice. Maybe never again.
You try journaling – going with the admonition to never lift your pen off the page. Free write in longhand, not on the computer. Go for a walk. Take photographs of random things on said walk. You seek out graffiti art hoping the creative spirits of youth in your community will somehow be contagious. Perhaps flipping through your well worn copies of craft books could help. Not today.
So you give up and start listlessly wandering around the internet until your hips hurt from sitting and your eyes get so dry you have to squeeze drops into them. But you still are searching for that spark. Something to light that fire that normally burns throughout your days and some nights and has allowed you to create stories. And those random pieces of writing that you just know have potential to become something.
And just when you have given up, you read an email from a dear friend. A suggestion about a book of essays with a couple of stories thrown in for good measure. Written by Jo Ann Beard, titled, Festival of Days (2021). So you find it at the library on the e-book catalogue, download it and read the first essay. Her writing is wonderful.
It seems like a justifiable use of your time since you just read that part of the writing process is reading. But reading like a writer. Still thinking on that one so for now it will be reading like a reader.
Suddenly you have to run to the computer, and low and behold a story just spills out. There it is on the screen. A sh*tty first draft, as Anne Lamott would say. And you review and read it over again one hour later. Whoa – not bad for the first outing after a dry spell that had you worried you would never write again.
The craft of writing seems to be a process that is in part mysterious, even mystical. There is a spiritual side to the muse and when it takes you on a journey it isn’t necessarily a straight ride. You can be down, feel flat, and suddenly it lifts you up, and re-opens your heart.
Creativity may be a fickle friend but is a friend indeed.