I don’t believe in writer’s block, but I do believe in dry wells, those times when a writer has depleted herself and her ideas and finds it hard to pull those ideas out. I’m in one of those places now.
But lest you think that I’m just speaking semantics here – blocks, wells, whatever – let me explain. I believe writer’s block is what people say they have when words are hard to find. Sometimes that’s a result of our belief in a “muse” who brings us ideas; sometimes it’s laziness (for me, at least) where we don’t want to do the hard work of writing; sometimes we say this when we are worn down and tired, depleted. Whatever the reason we use this term, I find it to be unhelpful because it sounds like something we can’t change. A block is something beyond ourselves, and I just don’t think that’s true. Unless we are oppressed and silenced – as many people have been over time but is far less common now, particularly in the U.S. – our only obstacles to our writing are ourselves.
That’s true for me now, too. My writing well is dry because I have not made time to fill it. I have been too busy – with writing-related and other tasks – and I have not given myself the time I need to fill up again. But I’m going to try to do that, starting today. Here are five ways I replenish my writing well:
5. Take time to stare into space and let my mind wander.
4. Listen to really good music. Adele is going to be on the playlist today.
3. Do something that makes me feel good about myself and my writing, like organizing my books.
1. Read. A lot. Pages and pages and pages of text.
So while I don’t believe in that external thing we call a “block” that comes down and stops us from writing, I know what it is to feel like there are no words to give. Then, I know I need to fill up again.
How do you refill your writing reserves? What replenishes your words?