Wednesday, May 16, 2007


My words are stuck

Even though I'm not a writer in the traditional definition of the word, I rely on the written word for my livelihood. I write communication strategies, news releases, web content, briefing notes and reports, among a long list of other things. My job is all about words.

The amount of finesse required and the level of care I take when stringing those words together varies day by day and product by product. If I'm writing e-mails all day long, not so much. But there are days when how I string those words together matters. Working for the government doesn't give me a huge creative licence, but there is still room for artistry.

On the blog, I write every day. (Every damn day. It tires me out just thinking about it some times!) Even with blog, though, some days involve more effort and creativity than others. I'm not especially careful when I string together a meme, but I'll often rework an anecdote for quite a while. The mechanics of good writing come naturally to me, but I like to pick at a first draft for at least a couple of minutes to reconsider the word choices and the rhythm and the resonance.

Lately, getting the words out has been a painful and difficult process. Whether I'm writing for work or for blog, for the past week or more the simple act of writing has been a struggle. Each sentence is an effort, wrested from some deep subconscious dungeon and dragged reluctantly to the light of day. Each paragraph is filled with false starts and abandoned phrases. My writing feels stilted and forced.

When it's good, it's very good. I love the joyous rush of being in the groove, of completely disengaging my brain from my furiously typing fingers and simply sitting back to marvel as the words assert themselves on the screen. I am my own biggest fan, and there are days when I go back and read some of the stuff that I've written and say, 'Damn, woman! You can write!' And then, of course, there are days like today when I look back at some of my finer writing and think, 'That's it, I've jumped the shark. I'll never write that well again.'

It's not a matter of being in a creative drought or lacking my muse; even when I know exactly what I want to say, the words themselves are the hinderance. Rather than flowing together, tumbling out in an enthusiastic and satisfying rush, the words are tangled and sticky and awkward, and each one has to be coaxed reluctantly onto the page. It's exhausting.

Is there anything more excruciatingly boring than reading someone complain about how hard it is to string words together? Oh yes, definitely: writing about how hard it is to string words together.

P.S. On my screen, my sidebar seems to be taking a vacation in the sunny south. (Although it's fine on the laptop at home.) I'm not sure why. It started doing that yesterday, but I haven't added anything to it, nor do I have any content in the posts that would throw off the alignment. I'm hoping it fixes itself. Bad enough when the words are fighting back, but the technology is throwing a hissy fit, too. At this rate, I'll be sending out blog posts via seminole semaphore signals by next week...