The Stayed Hand: when you can’t put your ideas to the page.

I have drafts and plots for stories I want to write.

They sit in their queue, waiting for me to pick them up, dust them off, and finish them. I have dreams for fairy tales, speculative fiction, suspense, and romance, all half-written with a clear road-map- but I can’t bring myself to take the final steps. All the ideas are there. I have the inspiration, the story lines, the format! But I don’t have the motivation to put words to the page.

My mind is willing, but my hands won’t move.

There’s a block between my mind and my hand, preventing any sort of transcription of my plots. While I”m at work, or running errands, or out on a walk, all I can think about is how much I want to write. I am flushed with inspiration! I imagine myself completing one story after another. But as soon as I sit down to write- it’s gone. I’m suddenly as dry and empty as a West Desert well. Ironically, all I can write is this blog post about how I can’t write.

What’s the problem?

Depression? Burn out? Anxiety? ADD? I don’t think there is a single cause to this blockage. And I have to ask myself if it really matters. After all, I don’t make a living from my writing. I don’t publish my work, and no one really reads it- so why do I care? Why do I care about my lack output? Why do I care that the words are stuck in my head? Is this even a problem at all?

But I care.

I know that my writing doesn’t matter to the rest of the world, but it does matter to me. Without writing, I don’t feel like myself. This disconnect between my mind and the page feels like a disconnection to my sense of self. My identity and sanity have both been tied to the written word since I was 12 years old. It is my way of making sense of the world and myself. It is my comfort, my refuge, my expression, and my escape. I care because it signifies that something inside me is also blocked.

So how do I break through this rut?

Many famous writers insist that writing is a muscle that must be exercised regularly. “There is no such things as writers block” they say. It’s annoying advice, but probably true. So- that’s what I am going to try, starting with this post. I’ll try to write a little every day, even if it’s only a couple of words. Journal entries, single lines of prose, prompt responses, and observations- maybe these little warm-ups will help my fingers fly across the keyboard again.

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