If only it were as easy as that.
I work in a cyclical business. Certain times of the year are reliably busy — “back to school”, fiscal year end, strategic planning season. And in between there are the lulls, when contractors like me have stern talks with ourselves about how there will indeed be work again. Stop catastrophizing and enjoy the break. Do something for yourself while you can, until someone else’s deadline comes around (as it inevitably will).
Some time ago I decided these slower work periods would be a good time to exercise my writing muscles. As I move closer to retirement, I want to spend less time working and more time on “my” writing. These gaps in the action seemed like an obvious place to start.
Get on with it.
(Author stares at the blinking cursor and blank page.)
My apparent lack of inspiration is not a new feeling.
Years ago, I enrolled in a creative writing class at a local university. I was spending my workdays doing “beige” writing — institutional documents, quasi-legal tomes that had no personality, opinion, or personal point of view. I wanted to intentionally practice creativity, imagination, writing to surprise and delight myself and maybe even some other readers.
Each week, the instructor gave us a writing assignment: a few words, a setting, some sort of prompt, and we were off. I had no difficulty “riffing” off whatever was assigned, and often I was intrigued and surprised about what bubbled up through my flying fingers. The experience felt like evidence that I could, indeed “be a writer” and not just a specialist in technical, boring text.
Then, in the penultimate week of the class. The instructions were simple: chose what you want to write about. What you must write about.
This final assignment stumped me.
There I was, staring at the blinking cursor and the blank screen. It seemed that all I could think about was how hard it was to come up with something … anything … to write about. To submit a piece…