My words are stuck

by DaniGirl on May 16, 2007 · 32 comments

in It IS all about me

Even though I’m not a writer in the traditional definition of the word, I rely on the written word for my livelihood. I write communication strategies, news releases, web content, briefing notes and reports, among a long list of other things. My job is all about words.

The amount of finesse required and the level of care I take when stringing those words together varies day by day and product by product. If I’m writing e-mails all day long, not so much. But there are days when how I string those words together matters. Working for the government doesn’t give me a huge creative licence, but there is still room for artistry.

On the blog, I write every day. (Every damn day. It tires me out just thinking about it some times!) Even with blog, though, some days involve more effort and creativity than others. I’m not especially careful when I string together a meme, but I’ll often rework an anecdote for quite a while. The mechanics of good writing come naturally to me, but I like to pick at a first draft for at least a couple of minutes to reconsider the word choices and the rhythm and the resonance.

Lately, getting the words out has been a painful and difficult process. Whether I’m writing for work or for blog, for the past week or more the simple act of writing has been a struggle. Each sentence is an effort, wrested from some deep subconscious dungeon and dragged reluctantly to the light of day. Each paragraph is filled with false starts and abandoned phrases. My writing feels stilted and forced.

When it’s good, it’s very good. I love the joyous rush of being in the groove, of completely disengaging my brain from my furiously typing fingers and simply sitting back to marvel as the words assert themselves on the screen. I am my own biggest fan, and there are days when I go back and read some of the stuff that I’ve written and say, ‘Damn, woman! You can write!’ And then, of course, there are days like today when I look back at some of my finer writing and think, ‘That’s it, I’ve jumped the shark. I’ll never write that well again.’

It’s not a matter of being in a creative drought or lacking my muse; even when I know exactly what I want to say, the words themselves are the hinderance. Rather than flowing together, tumbling out in an enthusiastic and satisfying rush, the words are tangled and sticky and awkward, and each one has to be coaxed reluctantly onto the page. It’s exhausting.

Is there anything more excruciatingly boring than reading someone complain about how hard it is to string words together? Oh yes, definitely: writing about how hard it is to string words together.

P.S. On my screen, my sidebar seems to be taking a vacation in the sunny south. (Although it’s fine on the laptop at home.) I’m not sure why. It started doing that yesterday, but I haven’t added anything to it, nor do I have any content in the posts that would throw off the alignment. I’m hoping it fixes itself. Bad enough when the words are fighting back, but the technology is throwing a hissy fit, too. At this rate, I’ll be sending out blog posts via seminole semaphore signals by next week…


{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Miche May 16, 2007 at 2:10 pm

Wow. I never would have guessed it was difficult for you to write … EVER. You make it look so effortless!

2 Miche May 16, 2007 at 2:10 pm

Wow. I never would have guessed it was difficult for you to write … EVER. You make it look so effortless!

3 Kerry May 16, 2007 at 2:22 pm

I just called an unscheduled break in my french class because I totally lost every word related to managing people in a single moment (after the prof had told me 100 small things I did wrong in the previous answer). I totally relate.
Head up, Dani. The words are your friends, and their flow will return. I’m sure our writing style bond is affecting your flow, since I’m all thinking in french and stuff and you’re still trying to write in English.
But, they will come back.

4 Kerry May 16, 2007 at 2:22 pm

I just called an unscheduled break in my french class because I totally lost every word related to managing people in a single moment (after the prof had told me 100 small things I did wrong in the previous answer). I totally relate.
Head up, Dani. The words are your friends, and their flow will return. I’m sure our writing style bond is affecting your flow, since I’m all thinking in french and stuff and you’re still trying to write in English.
But, they will come back.

5 Phantom Scribbler May 16, 2007 at 2:29 pm

Hugs, Dani! I think it is really draining to write and publish something on the blog day after day after day, and especially if you’re writing all day long for your job, too!
I’m trying to be a little bit better about giving myself time off from writing when I need it. True, it makes for some pretty boring weeks on my blog sometimes, but it’s better than giving up the whole thing. (I think.) I promise that we’d all still be your loyal and devoted readers even if you took a couple of days off every now and then.

6 Phantom Scribbler May 16, 2007 at 2:29 pm

Hugs, Dani! I think it is really draining to write and publish something on the blog day after day after day, and especially if you’re writing all day long for your job, too!
I’m trying to be a little bit better about giving myself time off from writing when I need it. True, it makes for some pretty boring weeks on my blog sometimes, but it’s better than giving up the whole thing. (I think.) I promise that we’d all still be your loyal and devoted readers even if you took a couple of days off every now and then.

7 Sara May 16, 2007 at 2:30 pm

Even when its bad Dani, its good!
I think as communicators we take for granted that stringing words together comes easily, or at least easier to us than probably 70% of the Cdn. population!
Your an excellent writer, even on a bad day!

8 Sara May 16, 2007 at 2:30 pm

Even when its bad Dani, its good!
I think as communicators we take for granted that stringing words together comes easily, or at least easier to us than probably 70% of the Cdn. population!
Your an excellent writer, even on a bad day!

9 Loukia May 16, 2007 at 3:06 pm

I agree with Sara – you are an excellent writer and excellent writers always suffer through some sort of writing block! Writing is how I make my living too, and sometimes it becomes overwhelming to have to think creatively to write articles for the newsletter and then write with another hat on my head when I write comm strategies and key message and briefing notes, etc… but alas… the job gets done! Keep up your great work…

10 Loukia May 16, 2007 at 3:06 pm

I agree with Sara – you are an excellent writer and excellent writers always suffer through some sort of writing block! Writing is how I make my living too, and sometimes it becomes overwhelming to have to think creatively to write articles for the newsletter and then write with another hat on my head when I write comm strategies and key message and briefing notes, etc… but alas… the job gets done! Keep up your great work…

11 dean dad May 16, 2007 at 3:18 pm

Get out of my head! You’ve captured EXACTLY what I’ve been dealing with lately, too. Just to twist the knife, you did it eloquently.
Sigh.
If it’s any consolation, second-tier Dani is better than first-tier almost anyone else.

12 dean dad May 16, 2007 at 3:18 pm

Get out of my head! You’ve captured EXACTLY what I’ve been dealing with lately, too. Just to twist the knife, you did it eloquently.
Sigh.
If it’s any consolation, second-tier Dani is better than first-tier almost anyone else.

13 cinnamon gurl May 16, 2007 at 5:21 pm

I am my own biggest fan, and there are days when I go back and read some of the stuff that I’ve written and say, ‘Damn, woman! You can write!’ And then, of course, there are days like today when I look back at some of my finer writing and think, ‘That’s it, I’ve jumped the shark. I’ll never write that well again.’
I love that… for struggling so hard with the words, you did it awfully well. I know what you mean though about the words being sticky and awkward… good luck!

14 cinnamon gurl May 16, 2007 at 5:21 pm

I am my own biggest fan, and there are days when I go back and read some of the stuff that I’ve written and say, ‘Damn, woman! You can write!’ And then, of course, there are days like today when I look back at some of my finer writing and think, ‘That’s it, I’ve jumped the shark. I’ll never write that well again.’
I love that… for struggling so hard with the words, you did it awfully well. I know what you mean though about the words being sticky and awkward… good luck!

15 Matthew M. F. Miller May 16, 2007 at 5:44 pm

Sometimes, the less I think I have to say, the faster I get to the gist of the story.
You’ll find your voice again – it’s not easy to compose daily, but you do a great job.

16 Matthew M. F. Miller May 16, 2007 at 5:44 pm

Sometimes, the less I think I have to say, the faster I get to the gist of the story.
You’ll find your voice again – it’s not easy to compose daily, but you do a great job.

17 trixie May 16, 2007 at 6:25 pm

Samuel Johnson once said that “What is written without effort is in general read without pleasure.”
Celebrate the effort! We’re all loving the results….

18 trixie May 16, 2007 at 6:25 pm

Samuel Johnson once said that “What is written without effort is in general read without pleasure.”
Celebrate the effort! We’re all loving the results….

19 alison May 16, 2007 at 7:22 pm

And that’s exactly why I am incapable of posting daily. We all love your posts, so don’t despair too much if you find that you have to take the odd day off to rest your brain. Btw, I see the sidebar just fine. And, expressing my ignorance, what’s a seminole signal?

20 alison May 16, 2007 at 7:22 pm

And that’s exactly why I am incapable of posting daily. We all love your posts, so don’t despair too much if you find that you have to take the odd day off to rest your brain. Btw, I see the sidebar just fine. And, expressing my ignorance, what’s a seminole signal?

21 Fawn May 16, 2007 at 7:50 pm

I concur with all of the above statements.
I don’t know what seminole is – a quick Google search shows that there’s a Seminole Tribe (an aboriginal group) in Florida, though…
Or perhaps you meant semaphore?

22 Fawn May 16, 2007 at 7:50 pm

I concur with all of the above statements.
I don’t know what seminole is – a quick Google search shows that there’s a Seminole Tribe (an aboriginal group) in Florida, though…
Or perhaps you meant semaphore?

23 Barbara May 16, 2007 at 7:52 pm

Can you cheat and use writing block moments for in box dumps? Maybe the somewhat mindless assembling of others’ work will work the kinks out. Don’t tell my mom, but sometimes I wash a few dishes by hand just to give myself a chance to disconnect and I’m better when I re-engage. “Mindless but useful” might work for you, too.

24 Barbara May 16, 2007 at 7:52 pm

Can you cheat and use writing block moments for in box dumps? Maybe the somewhat mindless assembling of others’ work will work the kinks out. Don’t tell my mom, but sometimes I wash a few dishes by hand just to give myself a chance to disconnect and I’m better when I re-engage. “Mindless but useful” might work for you, too.

25 DaniGirl May 16, 2007 at 8:09 pm

You guys are so sweet. And *smart*!
Yes, Fawn, I did in fact mean semaphore signals. See, I told you my words were misbehaving!
Barbara, I too use manual tasks to free up brain bandwidth. When I was going to school, I’d study for three hours then clean my apartment for an hour – seemed to help the information ‘set.’ Hmmm, maybe I should look into cleaning my house? Nah, let’s not be too rash…

26 DaniGirl May 16, 2007 at 8:09 pm

You guys are so sweet. And *smart*!
Yes, Fawn, I did in fact mean semaphore signals. See, I told you my words were misbehaving!
Barbara, I too use manual tasks to free up brain bandwidth. When I was going to school, I’d study for three hours then clean my apartment for an hour – seemed to help the information ‘set.’ Hmmm, maybe I should look into cleaning my house? Nah, let’s not be too rash…

27 Karen May 17, 2007 at 2:27 am

Writer by day and writer by night – no wonder your brain gets a bit word-addled from time to time!
Don’t be so hard on yourself. Couldn’t tell in the least that you’re struggling. I love your blog.

28 Karen May 17, 2007 at 2:27 am

Writer by day and writer by night – no wonder your brain gets a bit word-addled from time to time!
Don’t be so hard on yourself. Couldn’t tell in the least that you’re struggling. I love your blog.

29 Michelle May 17, 2007 at 6:27 am

Your seminole/semaphore thing was funny ๐Ÿ™‚

30 Michelle May 17, 2007 at 6:27 am

Your seminole/semaphore thing was funny ๐Ÿ™‚

31 mad_hatter May 17, 2007 at 5:34 pm

Hey Dani,
I was just telling a few other bloggers via email last week that my writing had “jumped the shark.” It’s a tough place to be in but I figure that all things come in waves and before long I’ll be riding high again. I haven’t noticed a down-turn in your quality or output but I do know the difference between what we notice for ourselves and what others pick up on.

32 mad_hatter May 17, 2007 at 5:34 pm

Hey Dani,
I was just telling a few other bloggers via email last week that my writing had “jumped the shark.” It’s a tough place to be in but I figure that all things come in waves and before long I’ll be riding high again. I haven’t noticed a down-turn in your quality or output but I do know the difference between what we notice for ourselves and what others pick up on.

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