Lately, I have taken to copying down quotes that I find inspirational or soothing, and occasionally writing them on the blackboard in my office. I see the blackboard the instant I walk in, and it’s a good little nudge. A reminder that all writers go through the same ebbs and flows in their productivity, and there’s only one way through.
My current quote comes from this piece of advice by Louis L’Amour: “Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.” (The blackboard is too small and my writing too unwieldy to fit the entire quote.)
It’s good advice. The best advice, maybe. So why is it so hard to follow?
Just a few weeks ago, I had a feeling of utter elation. That my manuscript was charging along at a good clip and would surely reach its conclusion by the end of the calendar year. (Keep in mind, this is my first draft we’re talking about.) I felt fantastic. Every writing session was productive. The words poured from my fingers in a neverending storm and the novel filled to bursting. There are too many metaphors in this paragraph.
And then something happened.
I mean, nothing happened. Life, camp ending, a week of being at home with my daughter, planning for the school year, beginning the school year. And I’ve been plunged into drought.
I’m familiar with the faucet concept. You turn it on. There’s some clanking. The first liquid that appears is just spits and spurts, accompanied by air. When the water begins to flow, the stream is weak. It might be dark with rust and entirely unpotable. But, eventually, the stream will run clear. I know this. I’ve been here before. And yet today I cannot get the handle to turn.