Writing Drought

I’ve written previously about how the drought in the US southwest is more appropriately called aridification, seeing as it’s been going on for 20 years now and is the second most intense drought in the last 1200 years.

I feel like something similar is going on in my writing life—a drought due to depression that has turned into aridification, as I go another day, another week, another month without writing.

It’s not that I don’t have places in which to write: I have my writing shed, and my writing desk in my basement office. It’s not that I don’t have time to write: instead of looking on Twitter or Facebook I could be writing in my notebook or typing up words on the screen. It’s not that I have nothing to write about: I have a weekly blog, and a book to write, after all.

The writing shed.

It’s that I’ve lost the impetus to write.

I can recall with crystal clarity two years ago, 2019, when I was feeling somewhat well. I was training to walk a half-marathon and had so many ideas for writing that I published three pieces on Brevity’s blog in a short two-month span. My mind bubbled with writing topics, and I made the most of it. I wrote almost every day, even if it was just journaling.  

Finished the half-marathon.

Since the fall of 2019 things have changed quite a bit. I struggle with generating ideas with which to populate this blog (any suggested topics welcome!). I struggle with putting pen to paper and just writing what’s on my mind. I struggle when working on the few writing assignments I can manage, taking a month to do what I used to be able to do in a week.

Like I wrote in a recent post, this depression requires that I celebrate the small things in life. I’ve kept up with my daily garden story on Twitter, through which I share a brief observation of things going on in my garden. The next step is to get out to the writing shed every morning—even if I only write one paragraph, at least I will have done something.

This month I’m taking a nature writing course through the Pandemic University, sponsored by the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative. It’s a series of Zoom sessions with nature and science writers from across the country (including American Sarah Gilman—her work is excellent!). I hope that I can attend all the sessions in real time, and that I don’t have to sleep extra and miss any. I’m also attending the virtual Creative Nonfiction Collective Society workshop this weekend, though I will have to miss some sessions because of time zone differences.

Hopefully these writing events will release me from my writing drought, and generate an impetus to write in general and write nature in particular. I have blogs, essays, and books I want to write—I must find some way out of this dusty drought and back to lush greenery again.  

Stream at Nikka Yukko Japanese Garden.

Note today’s featured image is from CSIRO (CC BY-3.0).

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4 thoughts on “Writing Drought”

  1. Crazy, isn’t it, how these writing droughts occur even when we have blogs, essays, and books to write? Hope the virtual workshops help. During the past year, they have helped me tremendously. In fact, I may be participating in too many of them. And thanks for writing this.

  2. Just a thought: Do you ever just free-write without a particular objective in mind? I think one problem that arises when writing is being done for a project, a blog, or any concrete objective, is that the sense of play can be lost. Sometimes, it gets like pulling teeth.

    • Hi Andrew – yes I do try free writing, usually journaling which is pretty free form. Even that has become difficult. But I’m committed to keeping on trying…


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