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Writing When You Don’t Want To

“Even I have lied about writing. I have told people that writing this book has been like brushing away dirt from a fossil. What a load of shit. It has been like hacking away at a freezer with a screwdriver.”

– Amy Poehler


The dilemma of writing while uninspired (e.g. the dreaded writer's block) reminds me of something out the mouths of my children.


But I don’t want to…


And the refrain is something that comes out of every parent’s mouth.


Sometimes you gotta do things you don’t want to do.


For my kids, it’s homework or bathing. I’m sorry, but there are some nonnegotiable tasks in life. You just gotta do it.


For me, that nonnegotiable is writing. There are days where the words fly onto the page with ease. You marvel at your prolific prose and feel like you’ve found your calling. You think, I AM A WRITER!


Then there are days when the words just won’t come. Your thoughts are jumbled and you seem to lack a single creative thought in your head. The blank page on your laptop is the great white expanse and your cursor winks as if taunting you. You think, that’s it. I have nothing more to say.

The good news? Let’s link up arms and sway because you are not alone. We all go through this. Amy Poehler, who wrote a hilarious, touching and best-selling memoir went through it. But then she grabbed her screwdriver and kept hacking away at the ice.


Because for me, it’s write and the inspiration will come--not the other way around. It’s not going to come to me as I’m watching TV or browsing Facebook. I have to be in the trenches.


When we power through a rut, we grow stronger as writers. Anyone who wants to improve their craft, whether it’s shooting free throws, doing the perfect ballet pirouette, or writing that breakout novel, doesn’t come upon greatness easily or overnight. It takes work—a lot of work. It’s the practice, effort and pain that nobody sees that takes you to the next level.


So if you’re feeling uninspired, remember that for you, writing is nonnegotiable. You just gotta do it. Now grab that screwdriver. You’ve got work to do.


Nora Kerr is the owner of Memoir for Me, specializing in memory books crafted from personal interviews to capture a life story.