Writing with an empty head

Even when I was really struggling with writing at the back end of 2019, I did keep going, writing ambling, sometimes pretty meaningless rubbish, but still I kept at it. I chipped out a few words from the big, annoying nebulous block. I didn’t feel I made much progress, I didn’t feel that much of what I scribbled was worth anything very much – and it probably wasn’t. I wasn’t even aware that I was struggling at first; it’s perfectly normal that sometimes the words pour out, gush out in fact, quicker than my fingers can press the keys – which does lead to some odd stuff, sometimes barely intelligible – the keyboard equivalent to bad handwriting. Equally it’s sometimes perfectly normal that the writing is a mere dribble, and nothing is thought of that either, just the way things are. It did gradually dawn on me – first with the novel I was writing, and then writing here, that the head was nearly empty, I was scraping round the bottom and poking in the corners to find anything very much, ideas, thoughts, even actual words.

Writing with an empty head… doubt creeps in. Has it all gone? Whatever it was that produced words, tumbled the visions, dreams, ideas, puzzles onto an empty page – telling the words when I was a child before I could write them. Had it gone? That gift, whatever the quality, whatever the objective view of what was told or written, had it gone? Well, fortunately it hadn’t, fortunately it was only in hiding or sleeping and it came back, and here I am, prattling away on the keyboard again, lying in bed at night before I drift into dream, following my people, tracking my characters, watching what’s happening, looking at the scenery.

I’m not saying that every writer’s block is the same or can be overcome in the same way – and maybe for some writers it’s a release and a relief not to be compelled to lose consciousness and let your pen or keyboard take over your world. I’m not saying that for everyone who has run out of write, forcing out the words will eventually lead them back to the way of writing they had before. All I’m saying is that for me, Pecking away at the barrier eventually got me through, over or under, and I’m back to writing. It isn’t the same, because of course I’m not the same!

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