What to do when words fail to come?
It happens sometimes. Yesterday morning, in fact.
I had a post due on Living In Place, and I didn’t have anything to say.
Worse, my brain was foggy, possibly due to the antihistamine I succumbed to the night before. Or maybe it’s my broken sleep cycle. I’ve been waking at 3:30 am and reading until daybreak, then getting on with my regular day. But I’m dragging.
I lubricate my brain with coffee and head out with the dog for a walk, though I hardly have any forward momentum. Leo’s his usual, joyful self. I’m dull and cold, huddled in a hoodie and worried about how I’ll meet my deadline if I have nothing to say.
That this deadline is self-imposed makes no difference. When I started my blog, I tasked myself with an essay every Wednesday. In 135 weeks, I’ve never missed a week, though twice I’ve posted a day late.
I think of all the non-writing tasks I could console myself with: paying bills, filing papers, cleaning my winter clothes for storage. Then I remember I have a blog due for Live to Write – Write to Live, too. I think maybe I’ll write about how sorting and cleaning tasks often help me on days when I’m stuck on the page. But I think maybe I’ve written something like that already, and I don’t want to repeat myself.
Then I remember that sometimes I do repeat myself – on purpose. Last summer, when I was hiking The Long Trail, I scheduled work from my archives for the weeks I was away. Could I do that again?
I pushed back my hood and looked up. The morning mist was lifting. I picked up my pace and flipped through my mental file, searching for something I could reuse. I remembered an essay I wrote about the summer solstice back in the pre-internet days. Maybe that would work.
The sun burned through the fog as I reached the apogee of my circuit. I unzipped my sweatshirt and strode back to my desk, where I drafted this essay with ease. Then I went to my files and found Hum Time, which I edited and formatted for the web. I polished this essay and queued it for today. I’ve done all the work that seemed unlikely just a few hours before.
It was a long journey, but all it required was a short walk. When words fail to come, I go for a walk. What do you do?
Deborah Lee Luskin is a writer, speaker and educator, contributing regularly to this blog since 2011.