Writer’s Frustration


photo by congerdesign, via pixabay.com

Some days the words just flow onto the page.  Other times, you sit there and want to beat the crap out of that blinking cursor. Why is it that you can have so many awesome ideas in your head and then when you try to get them out onto paper, they just come out sounding, so – what’s the word I’m looking for? Bad? Crappy? Awful? Cringe-worthy??  Making you pissed off that you even set the alarm an hour earlier, thinking you could get up and actually get something done?


On those days, do you turn to mindless activities like surfing the web, scrolling through your facebook or instagram feed, or other such time wasters?  (Maybe I should just delete the Candy Crush app on my phone now before it gets any worse.  Yes, I know I’m a few years late to that game.  Never said I was fashionable.)

On those days, I’m torn between wanting to read something like Anne Lamott’s book, Bird by Bird, and my latest fiction obsession, The Girl on the  Train.  Anne’s book appears to speak directly to me – she gets it, the frustrations, the self-doubt, the condemnation of one’s own mind.  And she even turns those thoughts into humor.

My fiction obsession – I read it for the entertainment, but also to study the writer’s technique.  And I wonder, did they know what direction their story was going in when they started writing it? Or did they just let the words flow onto the page as they flitted in and out of their mind, hoping against hope that at one point, it all might make some coherent sense? Because that’s what my writing is like right now.  A bunch of jumbled thoughts.  Some thoughts are of fictional content, others just musings of a distracted mind …. hey, look, SQUIRREL!??

One of my favorite authors is John Connolly.   When I first started reading his work, many years ago, I believe it was because he usually sets his stories in the northeast.  Maine, in particular.  A state located so close to Massachusetts but so different in every way.  John’s writing is quite dark but also spell-binding.  I don’t want to read about all the horrible things that can happen to the characters in his books, but I also can’t tear myself away sometimes.  His Charlie Parker novels have spanned the years, and I wonder, “did he know all of this was going to happen to Charlie when he first started out?  Did he storyboard or mindmap his ideas? HOW does he do it?”

For those of you out there who like to write, what helps you on the days where you’re just not feeling it?  Where everything you write down makes you want to just give up and remember to not quit your day job?  Do you work with writing prompts?  Pull out your journal and let the words flow via your pen and not the computer?

A good friend of mine said to me that writing can be like running.  Some days you just have really shitty runs but you persevere and push through them because you know that, not long from now, you’ll have that one run where you feel euphoric like that’s what it is all about, where you could just keep running and running and running. (No, not like Forrest Gump.)   This friend should know – she trained for a marathon with me, and God, did I feel sorry for her having to put up with me on many of those days.  There were some days that if I had been her, I would have said “Screw you!” and just run on without me.

But she stuck with me. As I hope many of you out there will stick with me. Thanks for reading my drivel today. And enjoy the earlier than normal morning sunshine, if you’re already up, like me.

As always, thanks for reading. Please share this post if you think there’s someone out there who can commiserate or benefit from reading it.  And please drop me a line if you have a suggestion or comment!


7 thoughts on “Writer’s Frustration

  • You and your friend are right. Writing IS like running. At the moment when the words are just out of reach I just don’t write…but I think that is not the answer. Like running, which I used to do and sometimes feel like I still do, but I’m fooling myself…like running…if you stop writing it will be harder to start.

    Which is what I’ve been trying to do all week while I’ve been in DC. On Monday of last week I had a blog post almost written but was so exhausted by the day that I didn’t write it…and on Tuesday I was exhausted and Wednesday…and and and. Not it’s Sunday and I was for sure going to write it but I can’t remember exactly what “it” was. So here I am.

    Don’t let that happen to you!

  • Oh Dawn…..that’s why sometimes there were a few months in between my posts. Your being in DC, I’m sure, is draining. Allow yourself to have the time off, your readers will still be there when you come back.

  • Your story reminded me of my almoat 11 year old grand-daughter Leila. She amazes me how creative she is. Give her a piece of paper & she can do so many things with it. A cousin was visiting & both got a paper to draw on. Well of course Leila went at it & drew like crazy. She told us the story behind her drawing. Her cousin was still looking at the blank paper trying to figure out what to draw. That is me right there. Don’t have the juice for writing. When I first met you I felt you were a little reserved. But that all changed. What amazed me was that you could write up memos like nothing to it. I didn’t realize then that you were a writer. There’s more to say about how amazing you are. There’s only a few women i admire because of their strength & who show their real selves, emotions & etc. You are one of them. You were meant to be there with us natives, even if it was for a few months. Thanks for being there my friend.

  • Pauline, you have brought tears to my eyes. Thank you.

    You know what’s funny? When I met you, I thought you were a little reserved too, lol. But then I got to know you and saw how calming you were. I would be so happy those days I would look at the schedule and see you on it. I knew things would be alright with your influence around me. And Arlene, of course, would make me laugh.

    I cannot tell you how honored I was and still am that you both have kept in touch with me and that you have said I was meant to be with you, and that Arlene called me a sister.

    I am very honored. I really am. Thank you.

  • Hi Terri – I have so much to say: writing: I go to author events here in Concord and I LOVE them, I love hearing what authors share about their craft, the process, the genesis of their creativity, their personal life (sometimes) but they all say “write everyday, even if you don’t feel inspired, even if it’s crap”, you’re honing your writing muscle memory. I write on my blog everyday – it’s not “writing” as in creating but it’s now a daily habit that will, eventually (like my quilting), evolve into creative writing vs. ‘journaling’. Here’s a link to a book I read and enjoyed: https://www.melaniebrooks.com/pre-order-writing-hard-stories
    And, the comments above compel me to ask: Pauline seems to be refering to meeting you, can I ask how that came about? I was wondering if you were at a writing conference.
    Oh, you had said you’d lived in the northeast, can I ask, where? and where do you live now?
    Okay…on to more reading (you).

    • Pauline and I used to work together in Lake Powell near the Navajo Nation. I’ve only been to one kind of writing “conference” if it could have even been called that and it was in Newburyport, MA. I went to see various authors talk – Cheryl Richardson was one of them.

      You’re right – writing more often does help build the writing muscles. I don’t blog every day because I worry that people will get sick and tired of seeing too many notifications from me, quite honestly. I will take a look at that link you’ve provided, thanks!

      And right now, I live in Albuquerque, but since 2015, I’ve lived in MA, then in Kanab, Utah, beginning in Aug. 2015, then on to Page, AZ (Lake Powell area), and now on to ABQ. I needed to get away from the winter weather after having spent my entire life in the northeast. You probably remember well the winter of 2014-2015. I had already known, going into that winter, that it would be my last one spent there, and it just cemented the fact of how much I hate having to deal with snow!!

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