I haven’t been writing, I admit to a friend.
[ Cue the fears: Am I still a writer? Was I ever a writer? Do I even like to write? ]
I've been writing nearly all my life — half of it as a person who actually gets paid to write — and I've yet to unravel the mysteries of the writing juice. As in: how to rev it, keep it, make it come back.
Yesterday, after a long dormant spell, I felt a rush of words. You know that rush. An astonished levitation, in which you are following the words rather than forcing them. The head moves faster than the hand and you ride the wave of word flow.
Oh, the exhilaration!
This morning the zing returned. For just a few minutes, enough to write several pages and restore belief.
[ Cue the relief: I'm not a one-trick pony after all! ]
I still don't know what turns the writing juice inexplicably off and on, but two things helped in this recent bout:
Write the same starting line for consecutive days.
Find a line that engages, and do a freewrite using it as a starting line. If you get stuck, repeat your line again and again but keep the hand moving. Return the next day using the same line. You may see, as I did, how the line takes you places, shifts your perspective.
I used this line from Transformation by Adam Zagajewski: I haven’t written a single poem in months.
Write in response to art.
Though we live in a hyper-visual world, I can still go weeks without a strong reaction to an image. And then, mysteriously, a painting or photo will stir me.
This morning, I began my day at The Storialist, and was unexpectedly compelled. Suddenly, I was writing with a fever, covering pages and years. Again, I experienced the beautiful floating, in which I was not in control but standing aside allowing the words to tumble.
Is the writing any good? Probably not. But it doesn't matter. The juice is back, along with my belief in expression and myself. Though this feeling may be fleeting, it is enough for today. It is, really, everything.
I haven't written a single poem
I've lived humbly, reading the paper,
pondering the riddle of power
and the reasons for obedience.
I've watched sunsets
I've heard the birds grow quiet
and night's muteness.
I've seen sunflowers dangling
their heads at dusk, as if a careless hangman
had gone strolling through the gardens.
September's sweet dust gathered
on the windowsill and lizards
hid in the bends of walls.
I've taken long walks,
craving one thing only:
— Adam Zagajewski
*Thanks to Calm Things for introducing me to this poem.