What if I’ve run out of words?

What if I’ve run out of words? The thought danced around in my mind a couple of days ago, unbidden. Everyone who thinks of themself as a writer has probably entertained the same thought once or twice or a hundred times. What if I’m empty?

Who am I if I’m no longer a writer?

The answer is easy. I’m the same person I was when I was no longer a Business Analyst, a stay-at-home mom, or a college student. Me. The same me I’ve wrestled with for 63 years. Sometimes stubborn, fiercely independent, often insecure, someone who struggles with social anxiety and whose thoughts go deep. A ruminator. Easily overwhelmed by what’s “out there”, most comfortable in the sanctuary of home. A wife. A mother. A grandmother. A friend.

But, a writer?

I’m struggling with a piece I’m working on for my writing group. It’s intensely personal and I’m writing in a different genre than I’m used to. It’s a good, albeit draining, exercise.

I’m dabbling with a new book about living liminal. The work challenges my mental health and surfaces feelings I’d rather not touch. It’s slow work that I could easily set aside, but won’t. The foundation has already been written so I’ll continue to slog through for now.

Yesterday, I risked vulnerability and shared thoughts on social media about the Freedom Convoy protest in Ottawa, our nations’ capital. Discourse occurred. Mostly healthy. Politics are not my wheelhouse and I won’t make that a regular thing, but it was an interesting experiment.

Use your words. I’ve been hearing that whisper for days. But what if I’ve run out of them?

Maybe it’s the late-winter doldrums or the sheer exhaustion of living in the land of COVID for almost three years but, these days, I’d rather sip tea and read books, or put pieces in a jigsaw puzzle, than the harder work of tapping out words. Or maybe I just no longer want to open myself up that way. It can be scary to say what you think in a cancel-cultured world.

I’ve learned to grant myself grace in January, and allow a season of doing not very much but the month is winding down. It’s time to decide if I’m going to continue to use my words or if I’ve run out of them. I think I already know the answer.

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I’m a writer, reader, photographer, and gardener. I thought by now I’d have things figured out, but I keep coming up with more questions. I think that’s okay. I’m here most mornings pondering ordinary things.
5 comments
  1. I grapple with this concern often, Linda, especially since my chronic condition affects my brain, and the depletion of vocabulary is real. Then it occurs to me that I have a rich resource of words and ideas in all that I have written to date. Hopefully that carries us.

    1. Yes, VJ, having that resource of already-written words is a source of satisfaction. Every year I have a book printed of my blog posts from the previous year and when I see them on my shelf I think about those who might one day read those words after I’m gone. You and I both have other creative outlets in addition to writing and that helps too. xo

      1. What a great idea, Linda!

  2. We’ve compared notes a few times on our similarities, Linda. Once again, you have written my story of late. Posts linger in my drafts on my blog. Sitting there with titles but no words; I refuse to delete them. They were my ideas generated during my post-op period, the time of a shuttered brain due to excess anesthesia. A time when words felt lost to me. And still do some days. But I’m pushing my way back, one step at a time. Here we are on a similar journey, again.

    I also have to give space to V.J.’s comment. V.J., thank you for your words which touched my heart and soul.

    1. So often we enter similar spaces at the same time, Sherrey. I’m glad you’re pushing your way back. I’ve missed reading your blog posts. xo

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