The Importance of Flying (or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Write)

Writing has been difficult lately. I’ve wanted to give up, not because the unwritten road seems long, but because the journey seems senseless.

I asked myself why I was writing. What was the point? What am I trying to achieve? And quite disconcertedly, I had no answers.

Nevertheless, I’ve continued with my ten-minute, free-writing sessions over the last few days — and have hated every inadequate word. Words, which once flowed like water, struggled like concrete uphill. And yet, as writers, what can we do when such feelings of hopelessness and inadequacy take hold? Giving up is not a real option, waiting for the muse to return is unwise — it may take a very long time. And yet, at times, the struggle seems impossible and nonsensical — we end up fighting ourselves with our words as weapons; the fear is debilitating and stalks us.

Imagine a bird carried by a sudden updraft of air. It finds itself climbing through clouds, but is overcome by a sense of panic. Instinct keeps its wings moving. And it does so until the feeling passes and it soars again. That is the feeling we sometimes get as writers when we are lifted by the wonderful abandonment of boundless creativity; we climb higher and higher, until we suddenly look down, and then, for no sense or reason, we fear falling.

If you find yourself falling and the way down looks frightening, don’t give up. Our words are our wingbeats. Yes, at times they will be out of rhythm, we will flail ungracefully as we tumble and turn, grasping and gaping as we fall. It will be frightening. But just as the bird beats its wings to stir the air that has always carried it, if we keep the words fluttering, the fear will pass and inspiration will lift us again.

© 2017 Occasional Dreams
Image: Untitled by abare13 / CC BY

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15 Replies to “The Importance of Flying (or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Write)”

  1. I love that you use the birds as an example, we learn so must from nature and they teach us good lessons. Strong points here David for everyone to read. While we do face times of no inspiration, concrete walls and uphill streams we must never loose heart for our stop or pause was by our own choice, not an outside force that had control over our creativity, and your words echo that wise counsel. I do believe in these moments of less words and limited phrase we can look to other’s words and phrases and be inspired by the greatness we have around us, everyone having an amazing story to tell. I think that’s why I re-read books, it has inspired some sad poetry as well as deep understanding of the Language of the World. I love your words even when it is talking about lack of inspiration like this, it comes from the heart that is trying to figure our the curves and bends of being a writer. you will do well on this journey, you have creativity and strength yet unleashed, just pause for awhile and breathe! We have got your back on this!

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  2. Dear David,

    Your beautifully worded missive comes at a time when I need to read it. Lately, I, too have been questioning myself, my motives and my desired career as an author. Although I won’t elaborate, just know that I receive your words as medicine for an aching heart. Thank you.

    Shalom,

    Rochelle

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you found it useful, Rochelle. Writing is such a solitary pursuit it’s easy to forget that others often experience the same struggles. I hope your words will soar again soon.

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  3. Great advice here. I’ve been feeling the same way. Working through the final draft of my book, I wasn’t feeling it. I couldn’t think of how to fix it, what to add. I needed to write a new chapter and it was a real struggle. But I pushed though and now I am almost done with the project. No matter what, you just got to keep driving on.

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  4. “Our words are our wingbeats.” Yes, this is exactly how it is! The harder we flap and even is we flail, we’ll manage to fly again! As an aside, have you considered entering little competitions or doing some freelancing?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sometimes those wings can seem very heavy though can’t they? I’ve not thought too much about freelancing, but I have a list of competitions from various writing magazines I keep meaning to enter. Are you still freelancing?

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      1. I think you could do very well in those competitions. I have written a few times for the same client but haven’t approached or bid for any work. I may make more of an effort in the coming months.

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      2. I should imagine now you’ve started it will be easier for you to pursue if you wanted to. I need to make myself complete some competition pieces — I’m not very good at that part.

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      3. I realised I’m not great at charging – I charge peanuts. I then found a typo once after sending and was horrified 🙂 Just push yourself to enter them. Might be fun. I met a man last year whose daughter won a short story competition in a magazine and had went on to write and publish novels.

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