Pulling Words out of Thin Air

Oh, hello again! It’s J.A. Bennett from A Book, A Girl, A Journey! It’s another Life List Friday and I have the pleasure of visiting Pam once more. You’ll find Pam hanging out at Literary Snippets today, so hop on over there when you’re done.

If you want to be a member of the Life List Club, all you have to do is follow this blog, my blog, or any blog listed on the right sidebar. Make your own Life List (check out Pam’s tab above for inspiration) and follow us around every other Friday.

Let me start this post with a confession – I really struggled to think about what to write today. My life is pretty good right now. I’m working on a book that I think is going to be fantastic (although time will tell). I have a loving husband, two kids, awesome friends and family, and an amazing writing community.

 I’m pretty happy. I don’t say this to rub it in your face or tell you that I’m better than you, because that is certainly not the case. I face my struggles too, but right now I’m content. The only problem is, when I’m content, I have a harder time writing.

Now, that doesn’t mean I haven’t struggled to write when my life is in shambles, but the emotion feels so much more raw when I have a lot to deal with. Writing is my therapy for when everything else is crap.

Smooth sailing makes my muse run and hide. I’m grasping at straws, pulling words out of thin air, and wondering why writing isn’t as easy peasy as it should be.

The only answer I could come up with is that I lean on strong emotion to take my work to the place I want it to be. So how can I write when that emotion isn’t there?

I decided it’s time to take a step back and figure it out. My conclusion? Write anyway. Yes, it is harder for me to write when I don’t feel like crying every ten seconds – but the more I write, the more those emotions seep back in. I leave feeling satisfied with what I accomplished and I stay satisfied with my life.

The words take longer to get on the page, but once I’m in the ‘zone’ they flow. Of course, that is normally the point that my kids wake up. But it feels good to have gotten there on my own without relying on crazy chemical reactions in my brain. And you know what? I think that makes me a real writer.

What conditions do you write best in? How do you push through when you just don’t ‘feel it’?

*All pictures were taken from Google images.


J. A. Bennett is a stay-at-home mom of a three-year-old boy and a one-year-old girl. Besides writing, she has a passion for cooking and good movies. She blogs at A Book, A Girl, A Journey about writing and other musing on life. She is currently writing a young adult novel that involves time travel and secret societies. Find her on Twitter here, Facebook here, and Google plus here.


A quick note from Pam:  I hope you enjoyed this Life List Friday guest post as much as I did – I can certainly relate! When I’m content, I need a lot more discipline to sit down and write, and the words wrestle with me when I try to get them down on the page. Writing is both therapy and escape, and when I don’t feel in need of either it can be harder to do.

Which might mean I’ll be in real trouble come Monday – I’m heading off this morning for a short trip to the beach with my mom and 2 close girlfriends. We’re staying with my aunt and uncle and there will be tons of beach-sitting, beach-combing, wine-drinking, eating, campfiring and hot-tubbing. I expect to come back VERY relaxed!

Since I’ll be away, I won’t be as quick to respond to comments as usual, but I’ll be excited to check back when I get home Monday to read your thoughts on your best writing conditions and to jump into the conversation!

About hawleywood40

Writer, Steelers Fan in Baltimore, Frequent Visitor to the Shot Fairy
This entry was posted in Creativity, Goal-Setting, The Life List Club, Uncategorized, Writing, Writing A Novel and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

35 Responses to Pulling Words out of Thin Air

  1. Shelly says:

    Very cool! I write anyway and trash that crap later.

  2. Joanne says:

    Sometimes if I just don’t feel like it, I’ll work on something other than writing the manuscript. Maybe some revision or research, or an afternoon of picture taking for use on the blog, or jotting down blog posts for future use. In some way, it all comes back to the writing!

    • hawleywood40 says:

      I like the idea of grabbing the camera and focusing on picture-taking when you’re stuck. As you said, it all goes back to the writing, and doing something else creative also helps get “unstuck.”

  3. Faith says:

    LOL, I get this. 🙂 “Luckily,” I fit pretty neatly into the “starving artist” (okay, not quite!) category, so there’s always motivation!

  4. Good post, Jennie. Did you and Lyn Midnight compare notes? Her post on my blog today is on finding inspiration when it’s not there.

    BTW, Jenny Hansen, needs to steal your cow. Perfect for more More Cowbell.

  5. l'empress says:

    You have the proper answer to begin with: Write anyway! Producing something useless may nevertheless evoke a memory that is worth a great deal.

    The other advice I have is, stay off of FB. It sucks the life out of you. Some of my favorite journals have virtually disappeared as their creators waste time on FB.

  6. @Shelly – Thank goodness for editing, huh?

    @David – I haven’t been over there yet, but me a Violeta are like this – X. So it doesn’t surprise me one bit!

    @l,empress – And Twitter, and Pintrest, and tumbler, and list goes on and on. I already have a social media problem and I have to really work to stay away when I’m writing. Great advice!

  7. @Shelly – Thank goodness for editing, huh?

    @David – I haven’t been over there yet, but me a Violeta are like this – X. So it doesn’t surprise me one bit!

    @l,empress – And Twitter, and Pintrest, and tumbler, and list goes on and on. I already have a social media problem and I have to really work to stay away when I’m writing. Great advice!

  8. I am the same. Right now I am writing like a mad man. My emotions are raw and on the surface, and I feel everything my character is feeling. My hubby is the same way with writing songs. I don’t want my life to be a mess, just so I can write. It just happens like that. (My life isn’t a mess, just one thing in paticular is causing my stress.) I think during the good times, I like to just enjoy life. Have experiences that will show in my writing too.

    • hawleywood40 says:

      That’s a good way to look at it, Jenny – even if you aren’t writing like crazy during the good times, you ARE storing up experiences for the future : ). I also try to choose what project I’m working on based on my level of emotion. I can usually make progress on my more lighthearted/funny pieces even if I’m not full of angst at the moment.

    • So true! t least that’s one benefit of a little stress. You are too cool my friend 🙂

  9. It can be a big challenge to write when you’re not feeling it. But you’re right, if you just start puttering around on the page, the words do begin to flow.

  10. I’ve decided to put a sign on my bulletin board that says Write Anyway!

  11. I consider myself a “method writer” – in the sense of method acting. I go through the emotional journeys that my characters experience… so I might start off perfectly content, but if bad stuff is happening in the novel, I’ll be crying by the time I’m done writing. One thing that I find really, really helps is to have music of the right sort of mood for whatever scene I’m working on: that’s a shortcut to the right emotions, for me.

    • hawleywood40 says:

      Great ideas, Rachel! You’re right – if you can get so into your character that your are feeling his/her sadness, fear, stress etc, you do end up in that mood. It may even work in reverse – if you’re down one day but working on a scene where your character is upbeat and happy.

    • Music is great influencer, but sometimes I just have to work through it becasue the music isn’t giving me what I need. Great advice!

  12. Jenny Hansen says:

    Starting a blog was the best thing I ever did to flip the “Where is my muse today?” the bird. You’ve got to get a blog up and if the post bombs, you’ll write a better one the next day…I find it very cathartic. 🙂

  13. I liked your post Jenny. I can certainly relate to sometimes being in the zone where everything flows without effort. And then there are the times (more often than not) when everything seems a chore and really difficult to pull off. I like to have a few things that don’t require much creativity on the side so that when I hit a wall, I can fall back on a routine and get by without wasting too much time. “Write anyway” sounds like a mantra I could use myself from time to time.

  14. Jess Witkins says:

    Jennie I’m really happy for you that life is at a blissful stage right now. And I’m really happy you’re feeling confident about your writing now, I know some past LLC posts you were crazed trying to find the time. So yay! Thanks for reminding us about the butt in the chair approach, it does help to just give it a try and eventually we all find the zone. Hoping to get into my zone on monday when I have off and plan for NaNoWriMo.

    • hawleywood40 says:

      Hope your pre NaNo day is full of inspiration, Jess! I’m not doing NaNo this year, but look forward to following the progress of those who are!

    • Yeah, I’ve come a long way. I’m done with listening to what everyone else thinks is right for me and started listening to myself first (not to say that I won’t take advice, becasue I will) it just helps to figure out what is right for me when it comes to writing.

  15. I have the opposite problem. When I’m in a funk, I have trouble writing, but that’s because I’m writing my life story with a light-hearted lilt. A dark mood doesn’t lend itself to the kind of humor I need to keep my voice true to the spirit of my story. So I need to find ways to get out of my doldrums before I can write another “episode” in my saga.

    Every writer, like every story, is different. That’s what makes this profession so interesting! 😉

    • hawleywood40 says:

      Great point – a lot of how my mood impacts my writing depends on what it is I”m trying to write, too. I may write “more” when I”m feeling outside pressures in a bigger way, but it doesn’t always translate to “better.”

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