When the inspiration well is dry

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So remember last week when I was all like, “I’m blogging again, hooray!”? Well, after I posted that, I started thinking shoooooot I don’t know what to write about. In fact, I think I’ve forgotten how writing works.

That’s not true. I know there’s plenty I could write about. I know that when I actually sit down and put in some effort, writing usually comes out (not always good writing, but, y’know…). But I certainly haven’t been on fire to writing anything this week. Mostly I’ve been on fire to eat bagels with cream cheese and catch up on Nashville episodes.

You could call this writer’s block; a form of it, anyway. I know about writer’s block. I have two English degrees. I’ve written everything from poems to features articles to conference papers to a masters thesis, and I’ve hit roadblocks for every one. I learned all kinds of “cures” for writer’s block—including, the dark recesses of my memory tell me, something about a wooden block that one might put in the dishwasher. I also learned the value in the rule of thumb that writing begets writing. (Which is really good advice because, you know, you can get all the snacks you want and clean all the bathrooms you want but you’re not going to get any writing done without putting words on a page.)

And so when I’m not inspired to write a beautiful, remarkable blog post, and would rather browse Etsy or NoiseTrade, I sit down and start writing, and then I make the connection that—hey—this is a lot like prayer! Maybe there are some folks out there who are always feeling really inspired and on fire about their prayer lives. Well, good for you, people. I have lots of days when I would much rather toast bagels and watch television. Days when prayer feels like a chore, and a pointless one at that. Days when the inspiration well is dry.

Sometimes, on those days, I do skip praying and watch TV instead. (Sometimes I read a book instead and find out that I really am praying after all, but that’s another story for another time.) More often, though, I go through the motions of some kind of prayer practice (that’s why the BCP is so darn handy sometimes), because I’m convinced that praying begets praying. Getting started is the hard part, especially when you don’t feel like it.

Dame Julian of Norwich, in her Revelations of Divine Love writes, “Pray inwardly, even if you do not enjoy it. It does good, though you feel nothing. Yes, even though you think you are doing nothing.” And so I go on praying even when I don’t feel like praying and writing even though I don’t feel like writing, and I trust and hope that something will come of it. Maybe not the most beautiful writing or the most beautiful praying, but perhaps just the praying or writing I needed.

__________

What do you do when the inspiration well has run dry? Do you have any tried-and-true cures for writer’s block? For prayer’s block? 

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2 thoughts on “When the inspiration well is dry

  1. Seeing as I have, for the past two years, been denying my own identity as a writer, I have no wisdom as of yet for writer’s block.
    But prayer-block, oh yes. Reading Henri Nouwen – anything and everything that will help my soul move again…and then sit, even just for 30 seconds, in thankfulness.
    Lectio Divina – start with a psalm or a passage of Scripture you KNOW you love. Create your own regimen (e.g., a psalm a day, or a passage from the gospels a day), anything to get yourself to follow it DAILY. Even for 5 minutes.
    Also, the next time we talk, we should talk about the Examen. I think you’d love it. It also keeps one exercising prayer, even when it feels difficult or pointless (rather similar to when you don’t want to exercise, but you know that everything is just a little better when you actually DO). End every day with it. You’ll start to want to do it throughout the day, eventually.
    And I didn’t know that Julian of Norwich was a dame … hm. Interesting.

    • Ahhh! The Examen (or, often, an abbreviated version thereof *cough* distractible *cough*) is possibly my favorite/best prayer practice. So yes, let’s do talk about it!

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