Ways To Let A Story Be Born

Some nights it’s true, there just aren’t any words, no pretty ones anyway. None worth showing to the world. None that even seem worth the pages of your journal. Just self-indulgent scrawls that amount to nothing.

Some nights the silence is too heavy to hear through. Some nights no matter how clean and white the blank page or smooth the ink in your pen, not a damn thing will flow. Some nights the only words you can find are the ones that tell stories you’d rather not remember, let along record.

There are two things that can be done on nights like this.

Both are right. Neither is wrong.

The first? Simply let the empty space be.

Allow the frustrating nothingness to expand and deepen and become what it wants to become. To sit and play the sad songs or sink into the silence. To consciously and decisively leave the page blank. To trust that writing does not only happen with pen to page. Rather––that is only the final step and possibly the easiest one, for all its inherent difficulty. To sit with the knowing that if you are a writer (and I assure you that you are) you are somehow always writing, even on the nights you don’t record a single word. Breathe into the truth of that.

The second option? To write anyway.

Past the noise and the silence and the emptiness and the way too full. Past the deep well of feelings that lives in a space that words can’t touch. To light the candles and pour the whiskey. To lay down an offering to the muse and to let her know that you’d love for her to come and dance, but you’re going to write either way.

And then? Well then you sit with your good pen and your blank page and you begin. Without a plan. Without the need for the words to be anything but what they are. To get out of your own way and trust those words to take the lead. Trust the loops and swirls to become something, and to waste no time attempting to judge if they have any merit. Knowing there is value in every last word, no matter where they eventually lead.

And some nights it’s quite possible you’ll sit down with nothing at all to say. With the voices in your head screaming loudly that even if you did it wouldn’t be worth saying. And in spite of that, after a while, some words will appear in your head and you’ll decide to write about how it’s okay not to write. A little letter of permission, perhaps, for someone out there in the dark who is feeling just like you.

But then somehow you’ll write your way into writing about writing. And before you know it six pages of your journal will be covered. Then seven. Then eight. Covered in the messy black scrawl that means the words are tumbling out faster than even themselves, and your fingers will be stained black from the foundation pen you just filled with fresh ink before you had decided that there were no words.

And the candles will burn and the sad songs will play and you’ll realize that the demons inside will have calmed, just a bit. Just enough. And you can finally breathe.

Writing is the release valve.

No matter if you write with your pen or with your heart or without words at all.

No matter if you fill a hundred pages tonight or you don’t even pick up the pen.

Allow yourself to write.

Both ways are right
Neither is wrong.
Both are just different ways to let a story be born.


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I swear like a sailor, I've been called a word-witch (more than once), I believe whole-heartedly in the power of your voice,  and think words are as necessary as air. I work with humans who are seeking permission to stop seeking permission and offer programs that will get living and writing on your own terms (for reals). 

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