Silence of the Pen

Weeks without composing prose is a rarity for me. The longer I go between placing one word after the other the more it becomes a physical ache. My ongoing inner monologue helps slightly. Not enough. Sometimes I can feel the sentences lining up in my fingers, just waiting to escape through a pen and onto a page. Other moments are agony. Sitting with a fresh cup of tea, a lined journal and a multitude of black pens, and finding my brain filled with cotton balls. I read over my work, hoping for a fresh burst of inspiration. Nothing comes.


Days without writing are nights without stars. Long, cold nights at sea. Clouds cover the constellations making navigation impossible. Watching from the railing of the ship, searching the horizon for a sign of land. Sometimes I am lucky, a mirage in the corner of my eye will draw my attention for a time. Others I spend night after night tossing in the inky waves while my dreams are haunted.

Every so often the clouds will part as one, a swirling brainstorm that moves swiftly across the horizon and leaves pages of scribbles in their wake. Usually a tiny break will reveal a sliver of the moon, or a single shooting star. Following that hunch can lead to a discovery of riches, or just as easily suck me into a maelstrom that leaves me more discouraged than I was to begin with.

Then there are the moments like yesterday. A pinprick of incentive turns an idea into a sentence which grow into a paragraph. A couple of paragraphs make a page and before I know it my writers block is gone as if it had never existed.

Lizz Beth Ashley (@dblzzdesigns) • Instagram photos and videos 2016-04-30 14-25-59
The view from my home in Queenstown was incredibly inspiring.

Occasionally when I cannot form a coherent sentence to save my life I end up jutting down utter nonsense instead. Such as these gems from 2012, when I was living and working in Queenstown, New Zealand.

“My brain is not working today. Its driving me effing mental. I have this entire story planned out and finished but I cannot write it because the words will not fit properly. It is like someone has put a dam in the river of my imagination, slowed my flow of ideas to a trickle. I’m in Patagonia (a dessert and coffee shop) listening to the girl behind the counter use her most “customer friendly” voice. Driving me almost as mad as the writers block. Seriously, she probably has a sickening baby voice. She is quick and good at her job as far as I can tell. She just puts way too much “let me do anything at all to make you happy” into her tone. Ew. Then again I have no customer voice to speak of really. Whenever I do try (not often) I think I come out patronizing. Reason numero uno as to why I am a chef and not a server.”

And a few days later, once again sitting in Patagonia, drinking a delicious mocha.

“Blah Blah Blah blah blah blah. My imagination is still stuffed with cotton balls. I am even having trouble forming coherent sentences in my head. Whoa nelly. I think I am trying too hard to push the stories out instead of letting them come to me like they do when I am at my best. Perhaps instead of trying to push it I should just let the thoughts come to me naturally. Brain storm ideas. Blah Blah Blah yada yada yada…. 

Nope not helping in the slightest. Forget the cotton balls. Pillows. Massive body pillows. Stuffed to bursting. Almost coming out of my ears and my nose… I can feel it all pressing upon the insides of my skull. My imagination is underneath all that stuffing, trying to escape but I cannot see it below. It’s suffocating. I’m suffocating . I need to let some creative energy out or I might just DIE! Die I tell you!

A little melodramatic perhaps but that certainly shows how derailed my train of thought becomes. As horrifying as writer’s block is, the other alternative is not writing at all. As long as I have my wits, I will have my words. Blah blah blah. Yada yada yada.



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