When the Words Come Easily

Some days, the words come easily.The days when the words come easily are gifts. They are the moments when the writer is free from whatever distracts her. They are the times when the words pour forth – not necessarily good or perfect words but words that can be shaped and turned into something worthwhile. They are words with potential. Such days are rare. They are to be received with gratitude and purpose. If such days are rare, the writer should take advantage of them. She shouldn’t rest in the feeling of clarity; she should act upon it. She should write and write and write until her hands can do no more.

Most days are not like this. Most days, the writer struggles to write. The writer fights with the words. The writer fights with herself. She fights with everyday distractions: cleaning the house, paying the bills, buying stamps, going to the store for the one item that cannot wait but probably should. She fights a lot of things just to get to her desk or chair or wherever it is that she likes to write. When she gets there, she is followed by her thoughts, the thoughts that say she can’t write, she should give up the idea of being a writer, she should find a job doing anything but writing.

On bad days and sometimes even on good ones, she struggles with these thoughts and attitudes. On really bad days, she finds the one word she needs or maybe doesn’t need and writes it. She adds another word and another until she has a page filled with words. She does not evaluate these words; she is in the act of writing. To stop to consider her words is to allow entrance to all the things she has just overcome and this she must not do. She must keep those things at bay. She must write.

Then, one day, the words come easily again. She looks at the anomaly and ponders it. She might wonder why she struggled yesterday but not today. She might think she should wait for these good days, these days when the words come easily. She knows better. She knows, as Richard Hugo says, that the ease of writing one day is the result of battling through the other days. Thus, she looks at this strange day, the days when the words come to her and surprise her, and she gives thanks for it. She gets to work and writes the words that come easily.

Image: palo (CC BY NC SA 2.0)

Comments

  1. RaulColon says:

    Erin, 
    Lately I took a hiatus on writing and it has been because I struggle to write things that make sense once I finished writing it. The editing has been so overwhelming for me to get it where I need it to be that I have sort of given up. 
    Reading this really makes me over-think that I need just to battle it out like every other writer does. Instead of consuming I need to sit down and create.

    • RaulColon For you, I turn to Dean Young. 🙂 In the Art of Recklessness, he says we sometimes refuse to write because we know very well how hard the work of writing horribly is. Do you know Lamott’s work Bird by Bird? She has an entire chapter devoted to “shitty first drafts.”
      Do you take a break before you start the editing? That can help.

  2. Today is a day where I have been waging war with words, or should I say fighting to get them to flow in a freer manner than they are.
    I hate these patches because they are frustrating and brutal, but there is something to be said for the joy we feel when the words do flow freely.

    • Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes I always think of Richard Hugo when I have days like that. He says the hard work makes for the sudden ease of some of the other work. A small solace, but it’s something.

  3. Some days are harder than others. The difficult days are ones where I want to write, but I should be doing something else (editing). I think guilt gets in the way, but then eight o’clock rolls around. From eight to ten each night is when I write. Nothing else is EVER scheduled for that time and the guilt goes away. I write!

    • ExtremelyAvg Yes, guilt is a difficult beast to manage. It quickly takes control if not dealt with quickly. It seems that you have a good handle on it.

      • Erin F. ExtremelyAvg I’m slaying the guilt dragon, today. I’ve been going through the last set of edits. I have only 164 comments to consider and then I’ll be ready to attack another 9,500 words.

Trackbacks

  1. […] When the words don’t come easily, when the darkness seems all-encompassing, I rouse myself from my stupor. I write the words I do find, even if they are harmful, ugly, angry. I write them. I write them all, then I write some more. A glimmer of light appears. It’s faint, but I recognize its presence. It’s visited in the past. It was there all along. I just forgot it was there. I nod to it, keep writing because the hard work eventually leads to easier – if only briefly – work, because the words will stop playing traitor, because I am a writer, and writers write even when the words don’t come easily. […]

  2. […] the sudden ease of another. The translation isn’t immediate nor does it come when I expect it. A day without struggle is a surprise, a gift. I look forward to its arrival. Until it comes, I do the work. It won’t […]

  3. […] it does. Sometimes, the page is your friend. You track the page much as an ice skater on fresh ice does. Your skates don’t catch. You try new […]

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