Writing has been difficult lately. I’ve wanted to give up, not because the unwritten road seems long, but because the journey seems senseless.
I asked myself why I was writing. What was the point? What am I trying to achieve? And quite disconcertedly, I had no answers.
Nevertheless, I’ve continued with my ten-minute, free-writing sessions over the last few days — and have hated every inadequate word. Words, which once flowed like water, struggled like concrete uphill. And yet, as writers, what can we do when such feelings of hopelessness and inadequacy take hold? Giving up is not a real option, waiting for the muse to return is unwise — it may take a very long time. And yet, at times, the struggle seems impossible and nonsensical — we end up fighting ourselves with our words as weapons; the fear is debilitating and stalks us.
Imagine a bird carried by a sudden updraft of air. It finds itself climbing through clouds, but is overcome by a sense of panic. Instinct keeps its wings moving. And it does so until the feeling passes and it soars again. That is the feeling we sometimes get as writers when we are lifted by the wonderful abandonment of boundless creativity; we climb higher and higher, until we suddenly look down, and then, for no sense or reason, we fear falling.
If you find yourself falling and the way down looks frightening, don’t give up. Our words are our wingbeats. Yes, at times they will be out of rhythm, we will flail ungracefully as we tumble and turn, grasping and gaping as we fall. It will be frightening. But just as the bird beats its wings to stir the air that has always carried it, if we keep the words fluttering, the fear will pass and inspiration will lift us again.