Friday, August 13, 2010

I've Got Nothing To Say, But It's OK...

You may have noticed lately that things have been pretty quiet around here.  Other than the weekly NW4NW posts, I haven't written much, and for awhile I was chiding myself pretty harshly over it.  "You gotta write! You MUST write! How can you call yourself a writer if you don't write?  Look at all your blogging friends - they write.  Why aren't you writing?"

So I'd sit at my desk and stare at the blank screen, which returned the stare with its stark, unblinking white emptiness.  I lost that staring contest every time. The distractions were too easy. "Hmm, maybe I need some music. No, that's too loud.  This one's too quiet. Hey, when did I get that CD?" One song would remind me of another then another then another, and suddenly I wasn't writing - I was listening to music!

"OK, back to it," I'd command myself.  But first, a sandwich.  Brain needs energy, right?  Of course, the kitchen is downstairs from my office, which means a trip through the living room and the combined dining room/library (don't ask), which means a quick side trip to make a sandwich turns into half an hour or more because "I'll just see if there's anything worth watching on TV for a moment," or "I really need to read another chapter of the book I'm in the middle of," or whatever.

As you can see, I may fancy myself a writer, but I am far from a disciplined one.

I do employ some helpful tools and exercises.  There is a wonderful website called Write Or Die where you set a goal of writing x number of words in x number of minutes, and the timer starts and you better start writing, because if you don't hit your word goal you receive a penalty that ranges anywhere from "Gentle" to "Electric Shock."  I find it immensely helpful in just getting the flow of words to paper going, even if all I spit out is meaningless gibberish (which, more often than not, it is, but it's about the process, not the content).

When it's content I want to hone, or I start feeling like I'm getting far too verbose, Six Word Stories becomes a source of inspiration.  The idea is to tell a complete story using no more or less than six words.  A personal favorite from the site: "Woman eats horse. Dies, of course."

There are a number of sites out there that offer up random writing prompts or initial sentences to build upon, and trying to write extemporaneously using those prompts can sometimes help me get going, but I don't use those often.  Some folks find them very useful; I find them to be too much like an assignment, which takes the joy right out of writing for me most times.  No, I'm one who needs the inspiration to come from within.  For that reason, I keep a notebook on the nightstand by my bed, as well as scraps of paper throughout the house. Never know when one of those light bulbs will suddenly click on.  I have, at times, sat bolt-upright in bed in the middle of the night and scribbled down a nearly complete blog post, needing only to transcribe it and do some minimal editing the next day.

Recently, though, those notebooks and scraps of paper have been empty.  No inspiration.  Until the other day, when I realized that there really wasn't a problem.  There was no need to scold myself or fear that the writing muse had left me altogether.

That realization was triggered by a line from an old movie I was watching, 1973's The Paper Chase, in which the lead character, Hart, is a first-year law student studying under a demanding and intimidating contract law professor, Kingsfield.  Kingsfield calls on Hart to analyze a particular case, and Hart, seeking to assert a newly-found confidence in his relationship with the professor, replies that he respectfully passes on the opportunity to do so.  "I have nothing to add at this time," Hart boldly explains, "When I have something relevant to say, I shall raise my hand."

And that sums up where I have been in relation to this blog recently: I quite simply have not had anything to say.  Nothing has spurred me to write.  I have not suddenly awoken inspired; I have not had the sudden light bulb moment in some time.  And there's nothing wrong with that.  In fact, it's probably better than me attempting to prattle on about something toward which I feel no particular inspiration.  And when I do have something worthwhile to say, I shall do so.

In the interim, continue to enjoy the weekly NW4NW posts.  There are some other goodies coming as well, but we'll let them be a surprise.  For now, I have nothing else to write.
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