I Got Nothin’

Writer’s Advice: Er… Um… No, I Am Not Stalling For Time, If THAT’S What You Think…

You wake up, you plop yourself down in front of the keyboard, the desk with your notebook, or a fresh clay tablet and a writing stylus, and…

Nothing. Big blank. Beyond nothing. You’ve discovered an idea singularity, where the smallest notion (once if falls past the event horizon) is irretrievably gone. You can’t even get close to the idea because the singularity is small… perhaps only a little over three solar masses. The tidal forces and radiation would rip you to shreds and fry you. Great news if you’re General Tso’s Chicken*, but not if you are a writer.

Oh no! You got too close! You’re locked in a decaying orbit! It’s a spinning singularity, so you are whipped around as the light around you narrows! All the visible universe in a tiny circle! You cannot win against its terrible pull! No one will ever get to read your epic poetry about the invention of the Dewey Decimal System now!

Whew! We’re safe. It was all just a dream.

Okay, now that all the other readers are gone it’s just you and me. That’s the way I like it! On to business.

First of all, DON’T write an epic poem about the Dewey Decimal System. What are you thinking?! You should really get a hold of yourself. I swear…

So, now that you’ve served Calliope (the muse of Epic Poetry) a restraining order, what next?

Hmmm… nothing else occurs. You burned most of the calories you had getting to your writer’s nook and only have just enough energy to write something. But nothing is springing up. You actually cannot think of a single thing to put down on a page.

Not to worry! Here is my not-at-all patented way of getting out of it!

Write a load of crap.

Don’t do that literally, typing “a load of crap” and leaving it to that. What is wrong with you today?

I mean just write any old crap down. “Wow, this sucks” is a good starter, or “why am I doing this while ‘Jeopardy’ is on? I have to get the tea on and the knitting isn’t just going to do itself. Oh my! And the jam I have to prepare for the Sunday social!”

Yes, in this scenario you are a clichéd sixty-seven year old grandmother.

Anyway, just write. Don’t wait for the muse… well, not Calliope because she has to keep a hundred feet from you, but, well… don’t wait for ANY OTHER muse to show up. They will eventually. Just write any old crap until a wild muse appears. Put in your time.

Here’s a challenge: keep your hands in ice cold water for four minutes. Here’s another one: write for at least an hour, regardless whether you want to or not. ONE of those challenges might resort in a lot of discomfort, while the other one is a good opportunity for you to pose thoughtfully in a Starbucks. Try both and see which one suits you!

If you have nothing to say, don’t let that stop you. It hasn’t stopped ANYONE else.

* I prefer Crispy Szechuan Beef, but General Tso’s Chicken is more popular so here I am pandering.