When the Story Doesn’t Come

You sit there and nothing happens.  Time halts as your fingers waver over the keyboard or the pen over the paper but the muse, or whatever you call it, has taken the day off.  Never mind, you say, It’ll come later. But it doesn’t want to come later, either.

Maybe a little bit of guilt sets in.  It’s been three days since you got something down.  Perhaps I should be worried?  What if my creativity has run out?  That’s it, its over, no longer a writer.  Lets not be hasty, you can’t expect to write all the time, right?  But what about professional writers, they write every single day, how do they get through this?

I know, I’ll look on the internet/find a book on the subject.  Someone is bound to have written about it.  This is all a distraction, of course.

Does it really matter what the real reason is?  If it is an external source, then yes, it does matter.  Remove the source or deal with it and you should be able to start writing again.  After all, we are all humans and are subject to numerous things wanting our precious resources; physical, emotional or otherwise.

Sometimes though, it is through lack of practice.  What helps for professionals is that they write all the time, but even they have struggles too.  Terry Pratchett wrote in his autobiography (which I suggest you buy, by the way) how a typical day went.  Each day he set himself a target number of words (400, if I recall) to write and this particular day it took him the whole day (I’m not kidding either) to get there.

I know you’re not going to like this but, keep at it.  Never give up, never give in.  Drive yourself.  Sit down, any opportunity you have, and try.  You might not get anything, but trying and failing is better than not trying at all.  You cannot hope to win a competition if you do not enter.  That is only the stuff of stories.

Like everything, writing needs to be worked at.  In this day of near instant gratification, taking years to get to the end goal feels like a nightmare.

I love the definition of wordsmith ‘A person who works with words, especially a skillful writer’.  Just like a blacksmith works with metal, a wordsmith works with words.  Apprentice blacksmiths may come up with something resembling a sword just like a novice writer can arrive at something which looks like a novel.  Lets face it though, the misshapen lump is best off sticking back into the furnace to be worked on.

Day after day, the blacksmith turns up at the forge hoping today will be a good day.  Each day brings a new experience and over time that experience makes them a better smith.  That is what you need to do with writing.  Imagine a world without metal because the smith gave up.  Pretty stark, isn’t it?  Now imagine a world without stories.

 

 

 

 

 

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2 thoughts on “When the Story Doesn’t Come

  1. I like your analogy of the “misshapen lump” best put “back in the furnace to be worked on”. Most of my forced scribbles would be best put back in the furnace and just forgotten about! I struggle enough just writing about ‘actual’ stuff. Inventing fiction is an absolute non-starter for me. That muse never once showed up.

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    • You should have seen what ‘Pink salamander’ looked like the first time around. The phrase ‘Oh dear’ didn’t really cover it! That little story took me four months or so to get it to the position it is now.

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