Blocked.

I can’t write.  I’ve been trying. It’s not that I don’t have things to say.  The words won’t come out.  They are lodged somewhere between my brain and my fingertips.

I have one-liners expanded into stories where the best part is something like, “And then I said, blah, blah, blah,” and I imagine we all erupt into laughter.  But everything before it feels like stage direction.  This happened.  That happened.  And then, and then.  There’s no actual story happening, just a bunch of details leading up to what I like to think is funny.

I had one such story in my mind yesterday.  The punch line was, “And then I said, ‘Who are you, the Lord?'”  I wrote and I wrote until I finally got to that line. When I reread it, I realized that I sounded like a complete jerk. Worse yet, I was so bored I couldn’t even edit it.  Plenty of people have laughed at this story before.  I started to wonder if it was just uncomfortable giggling all these years and I’ve just played it up.

I abandoned the post.  I have considered that I may never tell that story again.

I tried to think of something else to write about.  I considered a few topics, nothing stood out.  I was uninspired.

I found myself staring out my bedroom window at the neighbor’s house.  They’ve been leaving their porch light on all night.  For some reason that I cannot put my finger on, this bothers me immensely.

I can’t write a post and they won’t turn off their light.  My mind begins to race.  What if they never turn off that light?  What if I never write anything worth anything ever again?  I realize, I mean I fully realize, that neither of these lines of thinking is logical.  And yet it goes on.

I snapped back to the present, the cursor blinking in the same spot where I’d left it.  I had gotten nowhere.

I am getting nowhere.

I closed the laptop and went to sleep. Another day has gone by.

All I’ve written is this and the neighbor’s light is still on.


 I’m linking up with the wonderful Yeah Write community.

53 Responses to “Blocked.”

  1. That light on all night would drive me crazy! You’ll write again, and write plenty, so don’t worry. I have nothing to say right now either, but I’ve been writing since fifth grade, with breaks and revivals, so I assume I haven’t written my last decent sentence.

    • It’s so annoying. I mean, why, why leave an outside light on all night??

      I’m trying to get comfortable with skipping a week here when I don’t have a good story. But lately I’ve been feeling so disconnected and with the words not coming, it just feels awful. I couldn’t decide if I should even link it, but selfishly I think I needed people to read it more than it needed to be read.

  2. cynk says:

    Oh, some stories just aren’t meant for written form. You’ll find the ones that are.

  3. Gia says:

    I hear you. I blog about the stupidest things when I have writers block. But then I draw a stupid picture and call it a day.

  4. Well, you have writer’s block and you think you’ll never write anything again. That means YOU’RE A REAL WRITER!

    John McPhee said it best: “If you lack confidence in setting one word after another and sense that you are stuck in a place from which you will never be set free…you must be a writer.”

  5. Joe says:

    I went through a period where I barely wrote for a few months. I’m just starting to get into the writing routine again. I broke the dry spell by writing the old fashioned way – in a notebook, without worrying about whether or not my words turned into a story worthy of posting.

  6. Kristin says:

    My whole block leaves its front light porch/stoop light on all night. Maybe because the two street lights we have are so dim they count as fireflies? I find it comforting…I hope you can’t see it from your place!

    In the end, I found this post well-crafted and not self-indulgent or whiny. That’s quite a feat considering the subject! I’m so blocked that I’ve been publishing things I’m embarrassed to have public, but I feel like I need to have something in between the legislative stuff I’m always harping on. How’s THAT for desperation? :)

    • Is that what all that light is over there? Sheesh.

      I really don’t know why it bothers me. It’s silly, really.

      I appreciate the positive words about the post. I really didn’t know about sharing it – I didn’t want to be whiny, but I am (this post is the tip of the iceberg).

      Nothing you’ve written should embarrass you, and I do like seeing some lighter pieces along with the heavier stuff. No shame in that. And your block makes sense, your mind is on some really important/heavy stuff. My brain is filled with insurance quotes.

  7. Peach says:

    But guess what? You wrote this. And you will write more.

    I understand though… sometimes I want to punch that blinking cursor. :)

  8. IASoupMama says:

    Sometimes our creativity goes into hibernation. And that’s OK. Because when it comes back, it comes back refreshed and renewed and ready to go. So let your brain hibernate for a while…

  9. TriGirl says:

    I often think “Well, that’s it. Nothing more to blog about.” And then I go run in a rainstorm or something and *boom*, a post is there. I think it’s much better to give the writing a break when you don’t feel inspired. You’ll know when that next story is ready to be written, and it will be great!

  10. I feel the same way, and when I found myself wanting to throw my computer against the wall in the frustration of not being able to tell a good story, I decided to take a break from writing stories this week. One night late last week I found myself awake in the middle of the night wondering if I had just run out of stories to tell. And wondering if that was even possible. I really, really love this post.

    • Yes – I wonder this – what if I ran out? Sure, new stuff could happen to write about, but what if I really am all caught up?

      Thanks for liking this post. Sorry you can relate.

  11. psychochef says:

    I appreciate that how instead of allowing your writer’s block to keep you from writing, you just named it and used it as inspiration to WRITE. I tend to just give up when I’m blocked, so your post was really inspiring to me.

    Thanks,
    Karen

    • I’ve had quite a bit of not writing going on, too, which is unfortunate. I felt like i needed to get something out there, to get the desire to be read dealt with so maybe I could write more again soon.

      :)

  12. tuhina tomar says:

    Oh dear, I get how it is to feel uninspired. The words just won’t flow out and everything that was worth writing about would become completely dull. But nevertheless this post was very honest and very well written. :)

  13. i feel that way too sometimes, but then it comes again, as it will for you, because you are a beautiful writer who really knows how to capture a moment, just like you did here. slingshot to the neighbors light? or maybe just choose a different spot in the house…that’s a little less angry. 😉

    • You are so sweet.

      I had two different reactions to your suggestion that I move: 1) yes, that would be less angry, and 2) why should I have to move? It’s their stupid light!

      Looks like i might be stuck on irrationally angry 😉

  14. This act of courage is why I love you. You show up, you put it out there, it’s true, it’s well written and it’s infinitely relatable. It’s the worst to feel uninspired. It’s like depression. Thank you for putting this out there.

    • Aw. You are way too kind to me.
      It’s funny you mention depression. There’s a little chicken/egg thing going on over here with that. I need to shake both the blockage and the bummed-out-ness.
      Thank you for such a nice comment. Much appreciated.

  15. christina says:

    yeesh I could’ve written this, that’s for sure. oh and also, our front porch light is on 24/7 but I live in Chicago and it’s probably best to keep that light on all the time. 😉

    • sorry you can relate.

      We live right outside of Newark, NJ, which has a reputation that speaks for itself. I’m sure it’s for safety reasons. I guess it could be worse, they could have a motion light going on and off…

  16. I know exactly how you feel! I loved the image of thoughts being caught between your brain and your fingers. It’s like your fingers are clogged up, and it’s so frustrating. But you got this out!

  17. When I’m blocked like that I take a walk or meditate. Emptying the mind creates room for new ideas, give it a shot!

    • Those are good ideas. It’s been a whirlwind around here the last few weeks and I think it all just came to a head in the last few days. Hoping maybe this post pushed me through it (though that remains to be seen!).

  18. That is writer’s block – you’ve captured it perfectly! Here you thought you had nothing to say, but I see myself in that post…

  19. Dana says:

    I know how you feel, and I’m right there with you right now. I’ve been working on the same story since our 500 word limit, and I couldn’t get it down to 500 words. But I couldn’t move on to another topic because this one is weighing on my mind so badly. Lately I haven’t had time to get back to it (not to mention I’ve been sober) so I’m bone dry. At least you are able to write something, even when you’ve got nothing. You should be very proud of that!

    • You said sober and bone dry in the same sentence. Haha. Ha. Isn’t not drinking hilarious?

      (You can see my frame of mind lately…)

      Seriously though, I’ve missed you, in all of the ways. The limit is up to 600 (500 + 100 grace, if you need it). Does that help? If not, maybe just let it be what it is so that it’s off your plate? Or, if you want it read by a wider audience, link it to the moonshine grid on the weekend. You’ll get the readership you want and get to move beyond the story. Or can you serialize it? Just some thoughts to help you get unstuck.

      I’m very good at dishing out advice, as you know.
      <3

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  21. No, nothing is forever, the neighbor’s light or your writer’s block. But I’ve felt that way too – completely stuck in the moment. Hugs!

  22. Stacie says:

    I so hear you Michelle! I’m super busy right now and the few snippets of time I’ve had to write have been completely unproductive. I’m mentally preparing to not get it back until after my kids’ baseball seasons are over.

    We leave our porch lights on. We never used to. The houses are spaced pretty far apart and the police actually suggest to do this to put off intruders, who are more likely to approach a dark house where they can hide in the shadows. How’s that for an explanation?!!

    • I think if I knew when I’d get past the stuff that’s dragging me down, it might help. I like certainty, even if it’s just an illusion (because really, can we be certain of anything?).

      I’m sure the light is on for safety. It’s a totally reasonable thing to do. I just happen to be an unreasonable person sometimes.

  23. Cindy says:

    You have captured my blocks perfectly. I’ve had a “vampire bathroom joke” on my sticky note app on my phone for almost a year now, waiting for the story to form. The one liners, I use them up on twitter and facebook, blowing my chance to expand them into something REALLY SPECIAL, I just know it. I hear you.

  24. Jester Queen says:

    Ah – but you have written this. Logjams take a bloody age to clear. I hope yours does before you go starkers!

  25. Gina says:

    I have felt exactly this way, the way you wrote about, for months now. The impressive thing here is you made “writer block” relatable in a well written way. So many notes stuffed in drawers, locked in my brain with no conceivable way out. Thank you for writing this.

  26. Jen says:

    Hey, you wrote this, didn’t you? And if you wrote this, you can write more. I can’t tell you how many four-line drafts I have saved away for later, when later never comes and they just refuse to flesh themselves out into something I can use. I think it’s likely that not every line can support a story. Maybe one day I’ll post all those little nuggets as one disjointed stream-of-consciousness as a way to wish them well and move on.

    • I considered doing that – a post of a few lines here and there – and then didn’t. I keep feeling like they could still be something. I still have faith in them (sort of). I like what you say that they can’t all support larger stories and I love your idea of wishing them well. I’m going to think on that one.

  27. Kianwi says:

    It will come, it always does. I have TONS of abandoned posts in blogger. I start writing them and if they don’t feel like they are coming together, I give up. Sometimes I go back and rewrite them completely, sometimes I never do. And I can never explain why sometimes a post comes out seamlessly, while so many times they don’t. It’s a mystery of writing, that’s for sure.

    My only advice is to just keep writing until it decides to cooperate again! Because you most definitely have a gift for it :)

  28. Thank you so much for the encouragement. It really is crazy that when it’s flowing, it’s so effortless. And then, boom, it’s just done and there is NOTHING.

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