By Ramona Flightner/ @ramonaflightner
In Massachusetts there is concern about a drought. As a Montanan, who thinks a tropical year consists of 13 inches of any type of wetness, I find this slightly amusing. The past five years I have lived here we have received at least 40 inches or more of moisture, often in the form of way too much snow. However, this winter was mild, and to me enjoyable, with no snow and now we are in danger of a drought.
When I think of my own personal drought, it has nothing to do with the amount of rainfall. For me it is how much I am writing. I wax and wane between rich periods of tremendous productivity and then extreme nothingness as though I never knew how to write. It’s as though I were in the Sahara, dreaming of an oasis. Though for me, the oasis would be how to put two sentences together.
However, I have found that these periods of seemingly artistic barrenness are actually times of great personal growth and enjoyment. I don’t feel guilty about spending time with my friends or going out to dinner. My muse isn’t constantly whispering in my ear and I am completely in the moment with my friends and family. It also affords me time to do research and to fill in the blanks about the time period I write about.
During this time when I am not freely writing, I catch up on the books that I have set aside for later. I watch movies without constantly trying to piece together a scene. I don’t wake up at 4 am with dialogue that must be written down flitting through my brain. It is, in fact, a time of great peace.
However, during my periods of drought, I also live with a nagging fear. Will I ever really want to write again? I begin to wonder if I should follow the advice of published authors who suggest writing so much every day, no matter what. Waiting for the “why didn’t I think of that before?” moment when the story begins to flow again and writing seems effortless can be hard. Yet I have learned that not to wait for that moment is to write material that will only end up in the recycling bin. For me, I would rather wax and wane and respect my writing process than force myself to write. For the writers out there, how do you cope with times when you are unable to write?