We begin writing with a burning, a need to say something, to tell a story or explore an idea. We begin in delirious happiness, skulking away to scribble in private, stealing moments to capture a paragraph, a character, an essay. We slip into a study or a coffee shop with laptop or Clairefontaines and fountain pens to write in full-throated explosion, with passion, surety, even grace and some success. It is often difficult, challenging, frustrating, but always exhilarating.
But there is another side to writing. You might know this one, too: The house is empty. The weather is exactly right beyond the windows, and you know what you need to do, but nothing is there. It isn’t that you’re blocked, exactly. It’s that there is no joie de vivre in any of it. Each word has to be scrounged from the bottom of a deep barrel, and every metaphor feels like it’s been tossed out of the day-old store into the free bin. Writing feels like going to the dentist.
When that happens, how do you get your joy back? [Read more…]