November 20, 2017
A myriad of feelings, situations, and life experiences cause wordlessness.
I’m not even sure that’s a real word.
Nonetheless, every writer who has struggled to write, to find the right words, to craft a word understands its meaning.
It’s that awful deep-rooted sense of creative helplessness; the knowledge that there are simply no words in the creative well.
Each of us must find our own way out of that well.
But often the very task we can’t do – write – is the very thing we need to do before creativity flows again.
Words come as we reach for them.
A word, a phrase, a sentence, or a paragraph may be all that’s needed to get our writing back on track when writing is the last thing we’d rather do; when we don’t have a desire to write.
They arrive on the heels of effort. That is: we must try.
Synonyms for “try” include attempt, strive, and undertake. All of these denote making an effort. In other words, even as we struggle with knowing words won’t come we have to do something to entice their appearance.
- Tapping a keyboard, letting our fingers play before words form.
- Doodling with a favorite pen in a journal, moving from squiggles to words.
- Using talk-to-text technology, speaking thoughts into existence.
- Writing without rules, forming a “bad” song or poem.
From Bad Poem to Article
Desiring to write but being at a loss for words, I used that last strategy today. Usually, we shouldn’t share “bad” writing with others – unless they’re critique partners or other trusted creativity supporters.
But, today I’m game.
Because I didn’t have any words, couldn’t come up with one word for an article all weekend. Then I wrote one word that became a bad poem that led to this article. So, I’m celebrating my bad poem today! Here it is:
When words won’t come…
When you’re feeling numb…
When grief is fresh…
When the body needs rest…
When you’re mad as snot…
When you’d rather not…
When family acts up…
When life disrupts…
Use What Comes
I sat down to write today knowing I needed a blog article. The first line of the poem sprang out of that need.
I know the poem won’t win any awards. That’s OK. I did not sit down to write an award-winning poem. (By the way, it’s almost impossible to write with a goal of winning an award because that goal is out of our control. Writing is a goal within our control, and if we write well we might win an award.)
I share the poem solely as encouragement for you to write something – anything – today. Use what comes, without overthinking the creative process.
I started with the first line of the poem, ending when the poetic flow departed and an introductory paaragraph arrived. I grabbed those first words, wrapping them around the poem.
If I were to edit the verses – which I have no plans to do – I’d substitute a synonym for “anyway.” The word is not necessarily grammatically correct, but it’s what initially came to mind when I tapped my keyboard, reaching for words.
I’d also add a title, because it didn’t come with one. I didn’t try to craft one because I’m smart enough not to force inspiration, even just a title, while battling wordlessness.
There are writers who write more during difficult times. I applaud them – and wish I were the same. Since I’m not, I must try to write when life would dictate otherwise. During those times, I don’t necessarily write pretty – as the poem illustrates. But, I do write. And that word, phrase, sentence, or paragraph usually provides enough creative refreshment to spur more writing as I bring them within reach. And that’s the goal.
I’m aiming for more words.
I’m seeking to write beyond the initial words, many of which I usually don’t keep.
I’m endeavoring to let creativity know it is welcome.
My hope is that creativity will get that message and bring all the words, skill, and motivation needed to craft material for private or public consumption.
Aim, seek, and endeavor are other synonyms for “try”. If you’re struggling with writing today:
- Aim for a word count of one to one hundred words. Chances are more will come, welcome them and keep writing.
- Seek to put down how you’re feeling, even if the writing is what you’d consider “bad”. Be authentic, keep what you can use, toss the rest.
- Endeavor to get one word down so others can follow, even if they do so at a snail’s pace. Be patient…words will come, eventually.
Words are within reach. If you’re struggling today, reach for them!
Not in the mood for reaching?
If so, put the prospect of writing aside. But aim, seek, and endeavor to write later this week – the sooner the better. Surviving wordlessness only happens when we face the dreaded condition and reach for words!
Lisa A. Crayton is an award-winning freelance writer, multi-published author, conference speaker…and more. She loves helping writers, and challenging them to achieve their goals and dreams! Connect with her on Facebook.