A dry spell in writing makes you feel oddly empty and full at the same time. Empty in the sense that you feel like there’s just nothing in you to write down. Full in the sense that you feel bloated and clogged, full of scraps of writing, little bits here and there, fits and starts, but nothing that will come to fruition. It all just backs up and remains unsatisfying. In the long dry spell that I’ve had since this past winter, I’ve started several blog posts. Some got to full length, nearly complete, yet with every single one, I’ve decided that it wasn’t good enough to post. Each failed to capture what I meant to say, and each went straight into the bin. Perhaps one or more will get resurrected at some point when I figure out how to change it in just the right way.
Winter, which was real and long this year unlike last, gave way to a rainy spring, and as is common here in Ann Arbor, spring has suddenly tripped into summer. The semester ended, I said goodbye to my students, welcomed summer interns to the clinic, and got them up and running on cases. My case load is smaller than it’s been in nearly five years, thanks to some well-timed case closures, and I have an opportunity to get some academic research and writing done. I’m glad about that, yet I’ve worried that my writing energies will be taken up by academic papers, leaving nothing for other writing efforts. Today, though, I realized that writing feeds more writing. It doesn’t have to be the case that in doing my academic work, I’ll somehow drain the reservoir. When I was working regularly on The Hopping Mind for a couple of months before the winter blahs set in – and in looking back, I think that’s exactly what happened – I found myself more productive at work as well. Writing at home and writing at work complemented each other and set the juices flowing. The Canadian author Robertson Davies was a full-time journalist for much of his life, all the while writing prolifically outside of work, and he noted how each energized the other.
While I don’t have much interest in “how to” books about writing, their authors generally maintain that if you want to write, just keep doing it regularly. It’s a process that feeds itself.
They make a good point.