Monday, January 27, 2014

Writing and Writing

Do you ever have a time when you feel really, really sick of writing?

That is, you've been writing for days on end, or maybe even only hours, and then you sort of peter out and you can't think of another sentence--another phrase--to save your life.  You push back your chair and get up, and your head is spinning with the immense complexity of characters and subplots, and when someone speaks to you, you mumble and look off into the distance.  Yet, after you have a nice, soothing cup of (coffee, tea, hot cocoa) you find that you have to slip back into your chair and keep on writing, because the words are coming so quickly that you can't keep up with them all.

How I feel when I get into the "writing zone."
I had that very experience on Saturday.  My mother calls it the "zone."  When I'm at home, I shut myself up in my room, emerging only for meals until at last I have simply run out of words.  Then I step forth, a wreck of humanity with bags of blackness 'neath my weary eyes and an additional 27,396 words on my manuscript.  When I'm at school, as I am now, I sit at my desk cluttered with textbooks and papers and type so quickly that smoke issues forth from my computer and my roommate eyes me suspiciously.

And people say that you shouldn't write just because the words flow.

Well, actually, you probably shouldn't.  Because even though I might be in the writing zone now, this time next week I will almost assuredly be out of it, and I won't be able to make a hundred words flow if I liquidate a dictionary.  We call that writer's block.  I get it.  Sometimes I get it when I'm in the middle of the writing zone, and it's really hard.  But you can overcome writer's block.


If you've been a writer for any length of time, then you know this advice well.  But do you actually follow it?  Because you know that there's writing the free and easy way and there's writing the strained and difficult way, and most of your writing, if you're serious about it, is going to come the strained and difficult way.

So how do you keep writing?  If you're out of words, then you're out of words, right?


You are a writer!  A writer always has words.  Writing, though, is like eating ice cream.  The following analogy works well for all ice cream lovers, and if you don't like ice cream, please imagine your favorite kind of edible eaten with a spoon from a bowl.  When you're in the writing zone, it's like eating that bowl of ice cream.  Everything comes easily onto the spoon and into the mouth, and everyone's happy.  But as soon as the main part of the ice cream is gone, all you have left is a little melty sludge in the bottom of your dish.  Sadness!  It's like that with words, too.  You have to scrape your brain for those words.  They're harder to get, but, like the ice cream in the dish, they're also the best part.  (If you're anything like me you won't let your ice cream dish leave while there's the ghost of a chance that a single drop of ice cream might be in it.)  

Think of those hard words like those last drops of ice cream, the sweetest drops of the whole.  You will find yourself in love with the parts of your writing that you really had to work at, because those are the parts that really count.  Writing, just like any other thing of worth, requires hard work to make the best final product.  Writing is sometimes inspiration, but that's only the beginning.  It's not hard to eat a dish of ice cream, but only the people who scrape out the bottom of the ice cream bowl know what the best part is.

Thanks for reading and God bless,


  1. This happens to me every time I finish a series. I can complete a series with a book a month usually, then I fall over and feel like I can't write anything for the rest of the year. ANd then it becomes a struggle, writing but like you said, I have to keep going. Even writing a line a day. If a writer takes it seriously than they have to keep going, even when it is hard. Every day.

  2. Wonderful post, Kathryn!! Hope you don't mind, but I nominated this for Amy Dashwood's I'd Like to Share. You can see more of that here:


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