My Mind is as Dry as the Desert

(Brief aside: you know how you can remember the difference in spelling between dessert and desert? You want more of dessert, and thus it has two of the letter s in it.  My seventh grade teacher, Charles Nakvasil, taught me that.  He owned movie theaters after he quit teaching.) Desert-arizona-summer-47866-h

Last week I was out of town.  This was not the usual kind of travel I do, to writer's retreats or workshops or conferences or meetings with clients.  This was for fun only.  My nephew graduated from Pepperdine law school and two days later got married in Malibu.  Yeah, he's kind of nuts.  Runs in the family.

We, all of us, went to the wedding. Kids, grandkids, the whole shebang. Long-lost brothers and sisters-in-law.  Stayed at the same hotel, congregated for breakfast, hung out by the pool, like that.  We spent a day in Santa Monica (on the beach!) and wandered around the Venice canals. And then, when the kids went home, my husband and I played tourist, taking the best Hollywood star home tour ever, and wandering along Hollywood Boulevard to see the Walk of Stars and Grauman's Theater.  You gotta love all that.

And now, I'm home.  Have been for a few days.  Came back to appointments and laundry and family duties and tons of errands to run, as one does.  

But I haven't done a lick of writing.  

I've not written down a single idea.

Taken even the tiniest note.

I can't seem to land on anything.  My brain is full up, that's for sure.  But nothing is coalescing.  When I think that I should sit down and write, I can't seem to remember any of the projects I was working on before I left.  (Um, that would be the novel, and the two stories, and the idea for novella.)

I can't connect with anything.  My brain is as dry as the desert.

And, of course, I know the antidote for this.   Say it with me now:

Write something.  Anything!  Just put words on paper! 

And so I will.  Because I'm familiar enough with the creative process to understand that this happens sometimes, and while it's often important to just go with it, as I have been, it is also important to break the spell at some point with activity.

In other words, writing.

It's gone on long enough, and so I shall get to it.  Because if I don't get to it, the Not Writing may become a habit, and I can't allow that to happen.

What about you?  How do you break dry spells?  Leave a comment!


***For fun, some other posts I've written about southern California:

 Here's a post I wrote about attending a party on the Venice canals a few years back.

A post on why travel is good for your writing.

A letter from L.A.

A post titled, Ah, L.A., in which I discuss how its illegal to be anything but thin and blonde and tan there.

There are no doubt more, but that's all I can find for the moment.  Enjoy Memorial Day Weekend, everyone!

 Photo by Wolfgang Staudt.

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17 Responses to My Mind is as Dry as the Desert

  1. Zan Marie 05/24/2014 at 11:27 #

    I’m with you, write anything! Diana Gabaldon (She has a new book in June and STARZ TV show of her books starting in August.) says take a project you need to get back into and just write what you know about it at that time. She swears it shakes the brain back into gear. Good luck! ūüėČ

  2. Charlotte Dixon 05/24/2014 at 14:18 #

    Now that's a great idea.  And Diana certainly has a book or two to show for it!

  3. J.D. 05/24/2014 at 17:31 #

    For the most part lately, I’ve been retooling a few of the million works-in-progress wasting away in my computer. I did start a new short story last week. I pulled an event from the past, one stored in the “good” cabinet of my brain. The story came to me after I unwrapped that memory and examined it, like ET spinning something around in mid-air. The result–well, it’s not entirely true, but neither was my memory ;-)) That’s my plan: Pull up an attention getter from the past, good or bad, and roll it around until the juicy center squirts out.

  4. Leigh Lauck 05/25/2014 at 10:15 #

    I know the feeling! I have been having a similar period the past two weeks or so. I’ve been so busy with editing/revising another project (and yes, with non-writerly distractions, too). I was having some anxiety about it and then took the advice you give in this article: yesterday, I just sat down and started writing. It was really hard at first, and then got somewhat easier. The story is turning out to be a rather strange one, and it’s going to need some rewriting, but boy, does it feel good to be writing again. I hope you find that oasis in the desert soon!

  5. Charlotte Dixon 05/25/2014 at 11:28 #

    Love that–your story isn't exactly true, but neither is the memory! ¬†A great way to look at it. ¬†I'm always a bit torn between the half-finished stories I have and new ones. ¬†However, I am happy to report that I finally had a good writing session this morning. ¬†Now, it's off to see Godzilla.

  6. Charlotte Dixon 05/25/2014 at 13:07 #

    Yes, I found my oasis this morning and I feel so much better!  It is difficult at times when you're in editing mode non-stop to feel that you're making creative progress.  Which is weird, because you are, but still.  I've had a post rolling around in my brain that's sort of about that for awhile and its probably about time to get it written.  Have a great weekend!

  7. Don Williams 05/25/2014 at 18:22 #

    ” Yeah, he’s kind of nuts. Runs in the family.”

    If that’s the case, we could be related then?

  8. Kayla Dawn Thomas 05/25/2014 at 22:46 #

    This happens to me if I take more than a day off from writing. I can keep the gears greased if I do just a little something: a few lines in the journal, notes on the white board, or in my phone. I’ve been really careful for the last year not to let things rust into place.

  9. Charlotte Dixon 05/26/2014 at 11:29 #

    We are at least soul siblings, Don.  :-)

  10. Charlotte Dixon 05/26/2014 at 19:20 #

    Yeah, I'm the same way.  I'm much better off when I'm chained to the computer, working hard every day.  Get me away from it and I remember how much I love to play.  Of course, I love to write, also, so it all works out.

  11. Milli Thornton (@fearofwriting) 05/27/2014 at 16:54 #

    Yay, Charlotte. That trip sounded FUN. No wonder you weren’t feeling motivated upon your return to the routines of life.

    Your post is perfect timing. I’ve been feeling disillusioned, drained and depressed about a non-writing area of my life. Not great for sparking anything with my writing. So what I did first was let myself go into denial. Did endless crosswords (the easy ones that are virtually brain-dead to complete), drank wine and watched Reds II, slept for 12 hours. That helped a lot. Now I can start to think about “I’ll just write for 15 minutes; doesn’t matter if it’s crap.”

    I’m out here IN the desert so I hope that doesn’t make my brain doubly dry. (hehe)

  12. J.D. 05/27/2014 at 20:00 #

    Milli, we all have unanticipated, unpleasant bends in the road. Life comes in cycles; something good is headed your way. Oh, and I’m not sure why I am typing this because I KNOW Charlotte has your back.

  13. Charlotte Dixon 05/27/2014 at 23:23 #

    Ooh, brain-dead crosswords are one of my favorite things! ¬†And so is red wine. ¬†I'm not so good at sleeping long hours, though–can't seem to prevent my eyes from popping open early. ¬†But I hope that all those things truly have rehydrated you and that you'll return to your writing clear-headed and enthusiastic.

  14. Milli Thornton (@fearofwriting) 05/28/2014 at 08:37 #

    JD, thanks for the kind, encouraging words. Much appreciated!

    I’m out of the dark elbow of that bend in the road and getting back on track. I like your prediction that good things are headed my way. :~)

  15. Milli Thornton (@fearofwriting) 05/28/2014 at 08:38 #

    Thanks, Charlotte! Somehow I just knew you’d understand about the temporary therapeutic value of brain-dead crosswords and red wine. ;~)

  16. SharonHolly 05/28/2014 at 12:39 #

    I was going to say brainstorming something that I don’t know enough about (like a minor character)… but I like what Zan Marie said. I would imagine forcing yourself to summarize what you know about your work-in-progress would be a great way to get back into the game.

    But I will also have to leave time for that red wine and brain-dead crosswords :)

  17. Charlotte Dixon 05/28/2014 at 17:29 #

    Yes, I think Zan Marie's comment about summarizing what you already know is very helpful.  And we must now start a red wine and brain-dead crossword club!

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