There are so many people who say they want to write, and they have an idea for a story, but they could never get it down on the page. I always assumed those people just didn’t want it enough. I always thought that if they really wanted to write, they would be able to push past the initial writer’s block and let the words out. Maybe that’s not the case.
A few months ago, I left home to start college at BYU Provo. When I got to Utah, I had a week and a half before school started. I stayed with my grandparents for a few days, then went to a leadership conference for incoming freshmen, then attended student orientation. For the first week or so, I was writing as much as time would allow. But as I started school, my ability to get words out diminished.
It wasn’t that I didn’t want to write. And it wasn’t that I was too busy. Even with my full college schedule, I had a few free hours every day. But when I did have time, the words wouldn’t come.
I had ideas, but they were vague and slippery, and none of my previous projects interested me. A few weeks before, I had been charging full-speed through the first draft of a new manuscript, and now I couldn’t even crawl across one page of prose.
Eventually I had to take a step back and try to figure out what my problem was.
It didn’t take me very long.
I hadn’t read a single book since the airplane flight to Salt Lake City, two weeks before. I had not spoken personally to anyone who was serious about writing since leaving home. My input had entirely stopped. No books. No people. The only conversations I’d had about writing had been emailing back and forth with my brothers and friends from home. As a result, my output had stopped too.
Once I had that realization, I hunted down the college’s science fiction/fantasy magazine and started volunteering as a slush reader. I also joined a writing club on campus that meets every Wednesday. Since then, I've been able to write again.
I didn't realize how important the people were. When I have other writers around me, my productivity increases. When I don’t, it tapers off. It doesn’t matter if I let anyone read what I write. It doesn’t matter if I’m close friends with the other writers. What matters is that I’m around them, even if I’m just listening to them talk to each other.
So if you want to write, but you can’t make the words come, don’t give up. Maybe you just need to find more input.
Search for it. Read books. Go to writing conferences and workshops. Find people in your community who are also trying to write and spend time with them. Talk about your writing projects with people who share your interests.
And if you already have connections to other writers, keep them up. We need each other. Writing’s not easy, especially if you have to do it on your own.