There will be times when it seems there's nothing to write. I've felt that way for a week. I want to write, but nothing seems interesting enough. My plan is to post every day and work on longer projects in between, but I feel like I have nothing to say. What to do?
My first inclination is to run away from the page and keyboard or to lose myself online. If I have nothing good to say, there's no point in writing. I want to sink into my bad mood and wait for something good to happen, but I know good things take forever to come. It's not that the world is such a bad place, quite the contrary. I've just learned that waiting is a good way to keep things from happening. That pisses me off, but it's true.
I want to write this morning but feel I have nothing to say. I've done my Morning Pages, had coffee, taken fiber, shaved, and done twenty push-ups. I could throw in some laundry, clean my desk, or sit and type. The laundry and desk will wait while I type to change my luck.
The oldest writing advice I know is to sit in the chair and do the work. Maybe I can open that advice up beyond just the directive.
The reason I feel like I've nothing to say is that I don't believe my thoughts are worthy. That's mostly because I haven't thought things through. The thinking is all in my head, vague and wispy. Coming to the keyboard or the piece of paper forces me to elevate the thinking, organizing my thoughts into sentences, making paragraphs that work together. It's a kind of performance too. I'm explaining myself to an audience. As I type the first draft the audience is my skepticism. I wonder, _am I making sense? have I said this before?_ If I've said it before, I've left things unclear enough that I need a refresher. I'm not the only one in need of that refresher. I keep going.
My butt is in the chair, but the magic is what I'm doing on the screen. I'm looking at the previous paragraph, going back to my initial thoughts, checking this sentence for sense, and hearing the next sentence coming. I can feel that I'm not done, that I haven't yet explained myself and am only partially moved by the words written so far. I have more I need to say.
That ought to feel discouraging, but it's just the opposite. I know there's more to say not just because I remain unconvinced but because I have sentences still rolling down the conveyor belt of my mind waiting to be typed. Having written some of my thinking, I've opened the valve. More ideas are coming through that tap.
The other thing I feel is that even when this thinking is done and I've finished the draft, there are other thoughts taking shape that I want to get down in letters and punctuation. The feeling of being stuck and unworthy is dissolving. The solvent was putting words on this page.
None of this comes as much of a surprise. The solution to feeling unable to write is to sit and write. Of course. However, in the moment of being stuck, writing seems too uncomfortable to even begin. I can't imagine that anything good will come of it and want to run. What to do?
Sit your butt in the chair and decide how many words to put on the screen, how many pages to fill, how long to keep writing. My plan today was for 500 words. Yesterday I set out to fill five notebook pages. Many times I set a timer for twenty minutes. A plan for quantity doesn't always result in quality, but it gets me writing and loosens up that feeling that I am terrible and unworthy. It's enough to stop me from running and start writing.
Sit in the chair. Take up the pen or open the laptop. Write and keep going. Tell the page or screen what you're thinking and make those thoughts convincing and clear to yourself. The writing won't be perfect; it doesn't need to be. You just need to keep writing.
That's what to do.