Last spring, my husband surprised me with several blossoming daffodil plants. I lovingly flanked them alongside the steps to the Muse, my writing cottage. The Muse has served as my creative refuge since well before Sheryl’s burnt up She-Shed became a thing. It’s the inner sanctum within the greater sanctuary of our farm. What better dressing for this diminutive retreat than the simple, understated beauty of daffodils. To a blossom, the petals dropped from every plant within a day and I was left with ugly, naked tufts of tall grass. All my planning, digging, and visions of bunches of daffodils gracing my home in the tasteful romanticism of an Austen novel were for naught.
Writing is a lot like that. You have an idea—fresh, delicate, and yes, beautiful—perhaps given to you by another, or born of your own imagination. It is abloom with possibility. You want to nurture it, work it in, make it a part of your landscape. That’s when the flowers fall off, wither, or shrivel up despite your best intentions.
The ideation part of writing gets your attention. If I had a dollar for every person who tells me they have a great story without having actually written more than a few hundred words (if they’ve put words down at all), I’d be able to order me some scrumptious Oysters Tintop any old time I felt like it. The pretty little bloom drops right quick when you have to roll up your sleeves and get to the sweaty business of writing.
It takes a lot of hours, determination, and brain sweat to coax a ream’s worth of words into coherence; that’s why it’s a craft. When I teach creative writing or conduct workshops for aspiring writers, I always get asked how I combat writer’s block. The follow-up is usually how do I blog about different things week after week without running out of ideas. Here’s what I say: writer’s block is a lie you tell yourself to wriggle out of the chore of writing. Unless you’re experiencing Hemingway-level performance pressure, it’s just a sugar teat. Write anyway.
As for running out of ideas? Bah! The hard part is narrowing them down to a single focus. Outward? Inward? Real? Imagined? Comical? Scathing? Write YOUR story YOUR way and the possibilities expand exponentially. How could it be otherwise when…
A solitary daffodil, golden-cupped and dewy, emerging in its second bloom just outside the Muse urges me to write on.