Write on Wednesday-Filling the Well

Just a few weeks ago, I was bemoaning the fact that my writing seemed to be blocked, I couldn’t come up with anything to say, and my creative juices were all dried up. There were some wonderfully comforting comments from readers. Deirdre advised me to “trust the silence to show me other things,” and Mardougrll assured me that my writer’s voice would “come back, if you just keep putting words to paper, words to paper.” Bella said “I know that you will be back with words that flow like a soft stream, just give it time. It cannot be forced.”

Guess what? They were right. For the past couple of weeks, I can’t seem to get my fingers to move fast enough on the keys, or find enough time to write all the ideas that are in my head. I find myself scribbling away on my lunch hour, while sitting in line at the bank, on airplanes, and on the backs of napkins in coffee shops (where is that notebook, anyway?)

What’s up with this rollercoaster ride of creativity? Why is it that sometimes the writer’s well is full to overflowing, and other times the dipper comes up with nothing but sludge?

I think it’s all a matter of balance. In that period of time when I was “blocked,” my life outside of my writing was a mess. I was involved in a huge work project which had me sitting at my computer for long hours deciphering medical records, and I had a major vocal competition to accompany. In moderation, activities like these can be grist for the creative mill. However, these were all consuming events, leaving me no energy to process anything remotely creative.

In the past few weeks, my “real life” has returned to a pretty even keel, so I’m free to wander about, both physically and mentally. I’ve taken some long walks in the park, sat under my big red maple tree reading books and sipping iced tea, and last night I got my bicycle out and went for a long ride, loving the cool breeze whipping through my hair.

In Right to Write, Julia Cameron says that “if we lead chaotic lives, it is difficult to write smoothly and steadily. If, on the other hand, we lead lives that are too regular, too sterile, our voice as writers will also go flat, leaving us straining for effect in an attempt to manufacture interest.”

In Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott says that those times when the words won’t come aren’t about being “blocked” or “stuck,” they’re about being “empty.” My creative well sometimes gets sucked dry by an overload of obligation and reposibilities. Whatever the reason, our creative spirits occasionally need restocking, and each one of us must find our own ways of doing that, of refilling the well. For me, it involves time~to walk, to read, to notice the world around me and to revel in it, to spend time with the people I care about and really listen to them. And yes, it also means working and pursuing the activities I love ~but all in moderation.

How about you? How do you restock your creative well?

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11 thoughts on “Write on Wednesday-Filling the Well

  1. Ah, yes, everything in moderation. Well I write every day, but some days are more productive, quality-wise than others! And like you, sometimes I can’t get the words down fast enough; am bursting with ideas. Other times, I am to think a little harder.

    Speaking of which, please come over and write a line for a “stealth” poem. xo

  2. Glad I could help. And to hear the writing is flowing so easily now. Refilling the well is so important – in all aspects of life. Reading a good novel, talking and reading about writing, having lots of time at home all help refill mine.

  3. Like you, I tend to dry up when I’m the busiest with whatever is pressing at the moment (work, family concerns, even pursuing other creative interests). I can’t say that the words dry up altogether in those times, but it seems that the bulk of my writing tends to be in my journal, working through the frustrations and worries.

    The cure for me is in having faith that the words will return in their own good time; if I try to force them to come back I think it takes longer than if I would just go about my daily life. Getting out into nature is usually good for me, going on a photo safari to a new and unexplored (by me) place, and reading bring new things to the well of inspiration.

  4. I’d love to be able to identify the switch that starts my creative well filling back up. I only know that at times the flow is slow, slow, s l o w… and I think ‘it’s all gone, finished’, and then, something (usually hearing a poet read, seeing something inspiring) gets me jotting a line down, and oh… where did that come from? A poem? I think it’s hard to identify, in other words, but what I do know is that even though I say “It’s all gone” I no longer believe that. I think we have ‘waiting time’ (did I borrow that from Billy Collins?), and that’s how I like to see it now. Wait, be, breathe, get on with life (the mundane and the new) and it comes back. Trust. And be willing to go back to the page just to see what will come out.

  5. My life is very slow moving and I need to walk outside to be inspired when my well runs dry. Nature and my memories are my well until our house sells. lol

    Welcome back 😉

  6. I’m not sure I have a fail safe way of restocking the writing well ~ I think the most important lesson (that I’m still learning) is indeed to learn to ride the waves of inspiration, to observe the tides and be patient in the process, not to despair when things feel a little emptier.

    And it’s great to hear you’ve got your writing mojo back, Becca 🙂

  7. I am so glad that your words are flowing. I am always trying to be in balance in all aspects of my life, but it always seems like things are more of a teeter totter.
    The best thing that I can do for my writing is just to make time for it each day, no matter what words come out on the page.
    I am glad things are a bit more even keel for you now.

  8. I am glad your getting some freedom to express. I am not a writer considering the company I keep but I do journal and I am creative in other ways just not necessaily the artistic sense.
    My being creative includes cooking, growing food, decorating that kind of thing. I would love to write words and poetry that makes a difference but for now I enjoy all of you.

  9. I’m so happy to hear you’ve got your writing mojo back Becca. Very exciting.
    I don’t write everyday but like Tammy I turn to nature for inspiration.

  10. I’m so glad things are flowing better! This post is well timed for me, and I resonate to Julia Cameron’s words right now. I am in such a “mom place”–and yes, things feel so chaotic and confusing and emotional, that the writing is just, at the moment, gone.

    As you can see from that last sentence. 😉 I need to take my own advice.

    What refills my well? Sleep. Blessed sleep. A few babyless hours in a row. Time with friends. Books, always books. And this bloggy tribe.

  11. I also make time for writing every day. I also teach writing so that puts me in a position of having my samples to share with my students. Two books that help me with prompts if I get stuck are Room to Write by Bonni Goldberg and The Sound of Paper by Julia Cameron. I look forward to reading more on your blog.

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