I’ve never been the type of writer who collects story ideas like books on the shelf, just waiting for me to find the time, energy, and enthusiasm to dive in. Stories need to come to me: a “what if” that persists and evolves into semi-obsession. A character so distinct and insistent it’s like having a toddler follow me around all day, tugging at my clothes and demanding to be heard. So when I finish a project (or abandon it), my writing future stretches out blank and resonant with the fear that I will never write again because I will never have an idea for a story again.
Usually, at the end of a writing project, I am so mentally exhausted that the bare internal landscape is a bit of a relief. It’s an invitation to rest, to seek out other forms of creativity and enjoy the words of others instead of laboring over my own. Eventually, though the itch returns. The nagging need that reminds me that even if I never publish a word, I am an inveterate scribbler and writing is baked into my bones.
But just because the urge to write is there, doesn’t mean there is a story idea to accompany it. And so the fear rises up dark and ugly, taunting me with my own silence. I haven’t always been good at overcoming this doubt, but I’m learning my own patterns, and how to self-soothe. I am learning that having the willingness to write is the hard part. It’s the part that matters. Ideas will come if I continue to show up, ready to record them. In the meantime, I gather inspiration.
I’ve previously tried Morning Pages when gathering inspiration, the much-touted tool to unblock creatives detailed in Julia Cameron’s book, The Artist’s Way. When I first tried it, I couldn’t see the appeal. I am not a morning person (to say the least) and often couldn’t find the time or energy to add this task to my pre-work routine. And when I did, it didn’t seem much different from the semi-daily journaling I was already doing. So I set it aside as a tool that was good for others but not for me. But recently, I was reading one of Cameron’s other books, The Right to Write. Feeling the call to write, but having no story idea to tuck into, I decided to give Morning Pages another try, this time in my designated writing notebook instead of my regular journal. And while I wouldn’t call it a wild success, I can feel it beginning to pave the way for…something. The pump is being primed, and I can feel the flow start to open up.
So I meet myself at the page as often as possible, every day if I can, and wait for the spark that’s forming to burst into a driving, motivating flame.