Those three words are my cue. Each day when I finish writing, I type them in brackets wherever I have left off writing. The next morning, I search for [stopped here today] and go instantly to where I need to begin. (I also use [edit from here] so I know which sections need a going-over with the editing comb.)
Most of the time I look forward to that moment when I do the search and find my place. But sometimes, when I feel stuck (as I have for the last few days), I search with as about much anticipation as I usually muster for cleaning the toilets (which is to say, not much). Right now, for example, I’m struggling to finish a chapter that has been resisting me. I know generally how I want it to end but the specifics are eluding me. In the past few days I’ve written and backspaced over hundreds of words.
This is when writing really isn’t much fun. The old spark just ain’t sparking. But I have kept at it. Finally, this morning, I wrote a few decent paragraphs. I now can see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel.
I’m grateful, when encountering what could be described as writer’s block, to be a more—ahem—mature writer. My younger writing self might have concluded any number of things from this frustration:
- I’m no good
- The story sucks
- It’s not worth going on
The current incarnation of my writing self knows that, as Clare De Boer so aptly pointed out, what’s needed to be a writer is patience and perseverance.
Writing makes an apt metaphor for life (or is it the other way around?). Some days, just getting up seems like a lot of work. Much easier to lie in bed and not even bother. But with a little perspective, you know that all states of being are temporary. As my mother was fond of saying, “This too shall pass.”
So I’ll be back at it tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day after that. After all, I’ve promised myself another 40,000 words by June 30 (that’s what I settled on for my ROW80 commitment).