When The Words Stop

Writer’s block. Probably the scariest words in the English language for a writer. I mean really, what happens when the words just stop coming? When an idea gets stuck mid-coffee-cup-desk-pensentence? When the voice in your head just can’t seem to handle the blank screen or page any longer? As a writer, words are our bread, our butter, and our whole world. As soon as we get the dreaded “writer’s block” the words stop. Although sometimes “writer’s block” isn’t actually a block in the right sense. November for me seemed to be a block after my writing retreat.

When I started writing this post back in November of 2016, I had hit a dry spell. I had finished a wonderful writing retreat where I learned so much and wrote over 2500 words in 3 hours. I was on a roll. I was flying high when I got home. I was going to write, no matter what anyone said to me, and nothing was going to change that. Then real life got in the way and I got sick (which still has never truly gone away over the last 3 months).

But a miracle happened, I went to another workshop at the end of November with the brilliant Kelley Armstrong. I learned so much, I came home and for 2 whole days, I wrote so much and felt so good about it. Then, Christmas shopping season and Christmas cleaning filled my life but I realized something, I was still writing not in the “I’m sitting at the computer typing” sense but the “I’m thinking about my story and working through them so when I have time to sit, I can work on it” sense.

coffee-cup-mug-cafeI then remembered what my digital storytelling professor told us, you are always writing. He called it percolating. I loved that word to describe that exact feeling. The words themselves had stopped but I was percolating. The ideas were running through my head, taking care of themselves. Sure, I wasn’t physically typing or putting pencil to paper but I was working on it in my own way. Sure, sometimes it still felt like the words had really stopped but at the same time, they really hadn’t. I had more time to ask questions and motivations of a character that I realized I hadn’t fully fleshed out in earlier drafts.

Still, you might be thinking, well, wouldn’t something on the page, be better than nothing? Well, sure, of course! A badly written piece can always be edited. But a lot of writers work a full-time job, juggle responsibilities, and still find time to write…sometimes. Not all the time, so it’s okay to not be so hard on yourself.

Take it from me, I still don’t get to do as much writing as I’d like. I wish I could devote all of my waking hours to creative writing and promoting it like I do here but sometimes life gets in the way, we are only human after all.

So when the words stop, don’t feel bad, just take a step back, and let the story percolate for the next time you sit down and let the words flow.


2 thoughts on “When The Words Stop

  1. Percolation sounds a lot like incubation stage in creative thinking. Incubation, the second stage of creative thinking in which the creative thinker provides clues to the solution (unconscious thought processes are involved). If the thinker is lucky then they receive an insight experience (3rd stage) which is like ideas taking form in our brain. And putting these ideas to paper is like the 4th stage (evaluation) to see if they work or not.

    Nice article 😊


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