When words won’t come

Column Post by Laura Hyers

What happens when you sit down, knowingly full of words, and they won’t come? Stubborn little things that they are, so big and full of emotion and feeling and memory—what happens when you want them out and they refuse, sit back and brace themselves and stay decidedly in?

If you’re like me, you panic. Like, big giant panic. You wonder if maybe the well is dry, or (if you’re feeling particularly guilt-ridden this day) if the garden has withered from lack of care, since that seems to put you in a more active role.

Maybe it’s just not time for the words to come out yet, some small voice murmurs, but it is immediately interrupted with another voice that shouts, Oh no, it’s time, but now the jig is up! It’s all over! The words won’t come! Time to email your editor or blog readers and tell them the sad story, hope that they won’t hate you too much for this, this moment of failure when you are expected to come through.

Let’s not even begin to address the frustrations that come with having so many thoughts and sentences built up inside you, that weird tightness that happens in your fingers, the ache to hold a pen or press down on a keyboard and feel some measure of release, even if what you produce is nonsense.

Never mind that; the real nonsense comes with this loud alarm, “No words will come!”

If you’re blessedly unlike me, the above sounds a little dramatic. Or a lot dramatic, because it is. But it’s frustrating to the core, this idea that we can be so convinced we have something to say. And we know ourselves, don’t we? If someone can say, “All right, Laura, time to sit down and write,” and know that good things will come of it (or at least something workable, something cathartic) shouldn’t it be me?

But words, as I mentioned, are stubborn little things. They don’t always come when they’re called, but more often when they aren’t called—when it’s about as inconvenient as humanly possible to get them down, when you’re driving on the interstate or taking a shower or just about to fall asleep.

They are probably one of the most frustrating mediums known to man. How many hours have been lost looking for that one word to perfectly describe what you need to say? How many efforts are wasted because all the wrong words found their way out and all the right ones stayed in? Why can’t you force them out?

The reality is that words are difficult because they are delicate—but not in a breakable way. They can be shy and unsure of themselves, and it takes time to coax them out and into the right order, to get them to say what you mean.

But don’t mistake the words not coming for not having words at all, friend. There is always a story for you to tell.

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Laura Hyers is a Tampa native, writer, and the newly wed wife of musician Caleb. She recently graduated from the University of South Florida with a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a concentration in literature and is currently teaching preschool. When not chasing a class of two-year-olds, Laura is writing and fighting fierce bouts of wanderlust. She loves music, reading, being near the ocean, and dreaming big over huge cups of coffee with her best friend Lakin. Laura blogs at http://littlebirdmarie.wordpress.com.

Read more encouraging stories from brave-hearted women here. Be sure to grab your free copy of inspirational quotes and writing prompts while you’re there. (Look over on the right hand side!)

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