I sat one windy afternoon on a bench at Mount Hermon’s Conference Center in Northern California and talked with a magazine editor about writing and about life as a writer.
I told my editor friend that at times, I felt very lonely as a writer. He sat patiently and listened as I talked about how it feels to be a writer, how it feels to face rejection, loneliness, solitude, and doubt in your own capabilities. Finally, I asked a gnawing question that I hoped he could answer. What of those days? Certain days, when a writer goes to his appointed place to write, and as he approaches a clean, spotless page or a blank computer screen to begin . . . what happens, when nothing happens? When there are no words?
What’s a person to think when there are no thoughts? What does one say, when it seems there is nothing to be said? What happens when the writer can think of nothing to write? In other words, what do you do on days when there are no words?
“I don’t know,” he said. “What do you think a person who writes should do on days when there are no words?” I spent the next several minutes trying to describe the routine I use for overcoming those days. He had some great insights, too. But eventually, we both agreed that there’s only one thing for a writer to do on days when there are no words … and that is to write.
Begin. Force fingers to type words and sentences that do not necessarily make sense. There will be other days for sorting out; on other evenings a writer can examine preferred spellings and paltry punctuations that bring clarity to what’s been written. But on days when there are no words, simply write—one letter at a time, one word at a time, one sentence at a time.
In your life, what do you do when there are no words? On blank mornings when your feet hit life’s cold floor and you have no idea how to cope with the challenge of writing life’s script for another day, how do you begin? How do you fill the page of another day of life, when loneliness and isolation grip you, choking the very life out of life.
Take it from one writer to another. There’s only one way to deal with days when there are no words. Begin. Force yourself to avoid trying to make sense of things. There will be other moments for that. Believe it because it is true. There will be other days to sort and sift and think.
Right now, you must live this day—the only day there is. Yesterday was, and tomorrow will be, perhaps. No guarantee on tomorrow. Only today actually is.
So begin. For there is another Author—the Author and Finisher of your faith. He knows the plot of your drama and the plight of your life. The only way to learn to write is to write. And the only way to live—really live—is to know that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him . . . especially on days when there are no words.