Tuesday, April 5, 2011

"I don't know what to say"

Every morning I like to do a writing warm-up in which I type one hundred words on whatever topic comes to mind. Often these words are fiction: bits and pieces of stories, character sketches. Less frequently, I write about myself: my past, my thoughts about life, writing, motherhood. Today, though, I placed my hands on the keyboard and...nothing.

I have so many words I want to write, so many thoughts I want to communicate, but at that moment they all escaped me. I think there are times in life when there's so much to write about that the writer just can't get her head around anything in particular, and she's left to gaze helplessly at the screen, hands quiet on the keyboard. This was one of those times for me.

Finally, though, after many moments spent flipping through my mental file of all the ideas and thoughts I'd like to give voice to someday, a memory came to mind about my past as a college instructor out in Nebraska. I wrote about that time this morning, and tonight, since the piece sums up not only how I was feeling then but how I'm feeling right now, I've decided to repost it here:

When I was teaching college English, I would ask my students to freewrite in their journals, either to brainstorm ideas for their essays or in response to an in-class writing assignment. I would walk around, observing them, and often I would see students whose pens weren't moving, whose pages weren't filled. They would tell me "I don't know what to write," and I would respond that those are precisely the words that they need to be writing--"I don't know what to say"--over and over again. The rest would follow.

I don't know what to say...


  1. If I'd read this earlier, I might have had something to show for my writing efforts! ;)

  2. Don't you hate days like that? I've sure had enough of them lately...