Nothing - if you are a writer reading this, probably even the word 'nothing' strikes fear in your heart. What if you should sit down with your lovely clean white paper, your lovely clean empty screen, and nothing should arise in your mind. Nothing! That's great when you're meditating (see yesterday's post) but hell when it is your job to put something there. It is often the hope of perfection which scares away 'something' and puts 'nothing' in its place.
Nothing often strikes me after I've been reading a wonderful book - a Peter Carey, Margaret Drabble, or Michael Ondatjee. Nothing sneers at me, his hands on his hips, like some literary Peter Pan, defying me and my hopes of writing something. And asking for anything doesn't work at these times either. Anything is a young girl skipping, her hair in pigtails, her knees covered in bandaids. She sings 'trah lah lah lah lah' as she skitters down the street. She doesn't give a care for you and your problem or me and mine.
Antidotes to nothing are legion. Or so they say. Whoever they are! Just move your hand across the page writing gibberish until Something comes. Or find a word prompt program on your computer, or pull down your trusty dictionary and let your fingers fumble find a word. ANYTHING! But if fear or perfection or absolute hopelessness have you in a grip then none of these will work. Because it isn't the lack of ideas that is the problem. Nothing isn't your mind out of imagination. It isn't, trust me. It is your heart, out of confidence. Don't go hunting ideas when it is confidence that you need.
OK, then smarty-pants - where do I get confidence? Hmmm...confidence hunting is tricky but I know some ways to find it. First write down these words, my mantra and it can be yours too, on a piece of paper in red or gold or something big and flashy or calm and sure -
I CHOOSE TO BE A WRITER, WRITERS WRITE!
Then, in complete defiance of the above statement - go for a walk in the woods. Remember this as you walk, writing is more than words on paper - it is mulling, it is regrouping, it often looks like laziness and avoidance, but it isn't. It is writing. And sometimes we need to do the opposite of what looks to the untrained eye as writing, in order to write. Got it? Good. Now let's get out there and laugh in the face of nothingness! Laugh, I tell you, laugh!!