How Do I Write Again?
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Hey Mother Writers, 

I need some advice. 

Back in the day my creative juices were well-oiled. Ideas would flow from out of nowhere. I'd sit down with pen and paper and I could fill pages. Now, when I try to write nothing comes out. Sometimes I get so frustrated that when I do find time to write, I come up with a million other things to do so that I don't have to face the page.

Part of the problem is that the past few years have thrown one challenge after another my way -- from losing my job and losing both my dad and my child's father to cancer, to becoming a single mom to a child with special needs. It's all been overwhelming and severely life altering. I know all this has somehow stifled my creativity. Plus, I don't get out as much as I used to so my life is insanely boring. Sometimes I fear that my creativity has been washed up and that it's over. On the other hand, I refuse to give up on the gift God placed in me. 

What tips/advice can you all give on how to revive a writing life that has been smothered by life stuff for so long?

Thanks in advance!

  • I bought a journal which was terrific in format. You didn't have to write every day ... could skip weeks ... and it asked you questions, such as "Did you call a friend today?" "What's the weather like?" You haven't lost your creativity, but we all have to monitor our energy level, and even writing a line a day is JUST FINE. I think Julia Cameron (The Artist's Way) suggested ten minutes of free writing in the morning. Don't think; don't correct grammar; just write. You will notice FEELINGS coming up, and that's tapping into your creativity. Can I invite you to be a friend? I am new. Best wishes!  

  • Wow 70K words?! That's awesome, Geraldine. 

    I started journaling my thoughts a while back but I'm sort of a perfectionist and very hard on myself. I expected everything I was writing to read "publishable", so I got discouraged with it. I'm learning how to distinguish between the time when I should to strive for perfection and when to just let things hang untouched and unbothered. 

    I'm going to try again. 


  • How about writing about all those challenges first, without having a 'publishing' plan for them, but to just clear your mind and make some space for new thoughts. I have found that to be extremely 'calming'. 

    In fact, by the time I had finished putting all my thoughts out there for exactly those reasons, I had completed a whole book (70k words) and felt absolutely liberated.

    Try it! You've nothing to lose.


  • Hi Mikki, 

    Thank you for the great advice! I'll will be incorporating your suggestions. 

    Also, I'm sorry to hear about your son. I will send up prayers for him. 

  • First, thank you for sharing your challenges.  I must say, I've been right there -- esp. being a single mom.

    You really have to just trust that creative side of your brain. I realized that it would often take me soooo long to GET GOING b/c I felt like I had to have the story laid out in my head already. (Not even all the way, but you know, I had to have an idea of that beg., middle, and end.)  But trust me, you don't.

    Once you sit down and just start writing, that other side of your brain will kick in, and the characters and ideas will just start flowing.

    Tip:  Pretend you're a driver in a magical car. And pretend the magical car tells you, "I'm going to take you on a journey; all you have to do is get in and push the pedal, and we will be off somewhere fantastic!"  If you get in that car and just push the gas, you will be off and running. Try it! You'll see. Just sit down, open your laptop, and start typing. I challenge you to do that. Warning:  Oh, the first para or two may not make ANY sense... I can almost guarantee you that, too. But, by that third para, you will be creating a story -- and  you'll wonder how it happened.

    Writing is like magic; you just have to start.

    Please keep in touch and let us know how it's going! Good luck! (But you won't need it; I already know you'll be fine once your feet hit that pedal.)

  • Hi,

    I'm a new member to She Writes, but I saw this entry and couldn't not respond. I haven't gone through the tragedies you have, but I do have one in my life. My son is dying from a rare brain disease that has already destroyed his mind. I too have had days when one word would not come to my mind.

    What has helped me is just to describe how I am feeling at a given moment. Put it down on paper, or into the computer. Don't hesitate to describe exactly how you feel, no matter how "maudlin" it might seem to someone else. Then, write down how you wish you felt, instead.

    Talk about your life. Tell your computer exactly what you would tell a good and trusted friend. Talk about your dad, your child's father. Who were they, what kind of men were they, what were the influences they had on your life. What are the good memories you have of them. Talk about your child. The good and the bad. The happy days, the difficult days.


    Look out your window. What do you see? People walking down the street? Describe them to yourself. Who might they be? what kind of jobs might they have: the man with the beard, does he look like he might be a professor? or maybe the way he is dressed, he is more of a present-day "gypsy" than anything else! What is the day like, sunny, hot? Describe it and how it makes you feel.

    The more you write about "nothing," the more your brain will begin to get into gear once more. it's just a matter of sitting down, and taking the time to write. Don't think about a story, don't worry about a plot or characters. Forget that for the time being. Just write about what you see, how you feel, what kind of "stories" do those people walking down the street, or waiting in the doctor's office can you conjure up? Again, not as a story with a plot, just as something your imagination brings to you.

    A lot of "nothing." But it helps. And sometimes, later on when you're looking all this nothing over, it will spark something in your mind, and you begin to get the gleam of an idea for a real story.

    It works. Honestly, it does. Good luck and keep on writing...even if, for a while, it's just "nothing."


  • I appreciate your circumstances and am very sorry for the losses you have encountered. (And no,they don't sound like excuses to me!) The reality is that sometimes life grabs us and forces us into different and challenging directions. Navigating these difficult times is exhausting, on every level. From your description of life events, you are doing well to simply be putting one foot after the other! Kudos to you!

    I have found that creativity is a somewhat special sort of, for lack of a better word, energy.  We writers know how it feels. There are times when we have so much creativity coursing through our veins that it feels endless. Then there are times when typing one little word is an exercise in futility. Please respect where you are in life - your creativity is dormant for a reason.

    I was so glad to read that you have no intention of giving up on your gift! This strikes me as your very first step -- recognizing that you fully intend to return to writing. Trust that your enthusiasm for the written word will return!

    Please give yourself permission to being very slowly. I have enjoyed simply writing descriptive sentences about what I see outside my window.There have also been times when I think of a word and then write down every synonym for it that I can think of. Or I may simply describe someone I love or can't stand - your choice! Small steps may get your creative juice flowing again.

    My very best to you and your child! Keep us posted!

  • Though I haven't been stifled by serious dilemmas as you have, which I give my sincere sympathies and best wishes, I have faced the fear of loosing my interest in writing. First, after receiving my first negative feedback I was hit by writer's block that lasted a week. Second, when the closing of my most recent work was upon me I shut down. I didn't want to read it, write, or revise anything that was part of the story. My editor had to constantly remind me of the deadline and there was still the audio to be done.

    In both occasions I did what I learned through reading Becoming a Writer by Dorothea Brande. Though an old book and written before the discovery of the right and left side of the brain, it holds great advice. The book centers on the creativity itself and honing that creativity and expanding it. So, what I did was this: I thought about my story I was working on throughout my day(s), when I took a shower, when I prepared food, when I went to sleep, when I did anything and everything. I wrote my story in my mind or at least the scene I was struggling with. I thought about my characters and what they would do in that current situation as if I was watching a movie. If that scene was still troublesome for me I would jump ahead and work my way back.

    I did this for days to the point that I couldn't wait to write it down. Then I set a time within each day to write. It had to be the same time and I kept to it even if there were times I didn't feel up to it. Try it. You have to find the desire to want to write about what you are writing. You want to be in the mind set of needing to find out what happens next in your story. Have fun.

    And another thing I suggest is take it easy on yourself. Pick up your favorite book and read it, taking note why you like it so much. Listen to music that gets your heart pumping and makes you happy. Remind yourself why you wanted to write in the first place. And then write, write a sentence, a paragraph. Soon that will turn into pages and you will find yourself emerged in your writing.

    From one writer to another, writing can be a headache but it can also be a pleasure just like children. :)