The Nothingness of Writing

Billy Osogo

Writing is a beautiful and intriguing undertaking. Like most things in life, it makes certain demands of its practitioners. These include monk-like dedication, soldier-like loyalty and child-like curiosity.

Ideas are the fuel on which this art runs on. They are as diverse as the billions of writers on this planet. In my experience, ideas come in waves. Most times, the tide is high. An idea tidal wave if you will. Think of how people Kenya’s Ngugi wa Thiong’o, South Africa Kopano Matlwa, or Britain’s JK Rowling just seem to be churning out books.

On other days, the tide eases. A smooth sea if you will. These periods when your mind is tabula rasa. A clean slate. A writer’s block by any other name.

All writers, even the most seasoned of them, have been at this point of the sea.

Indulge me, how do you wade through this period in your writing journey?

77 thoughts on “The Nothingness of Writing

  1. I think you’ll find that J K Rowling is british not American. I just keep writing, mostly rubbish and exceptionally boring but keep going. Eventually small nuggets appear. At least that’s what it seems like.

  2. personally, I had not been gifted in writing. I had to write rubbish and boring, read other works and books, and just try and try until I finally developed my hand. I wont say I have developed it fully It is an ever evolving process! Now it feels more natural than ever before.

  3. Hello!
    As you have already said: you need (child-like) curiosity. Kids are not looking for inspiration, they are in awe of everything they experience. They do not take things for granted and they attach less prejudice on what they see, hear, smell, taste and touch. Not to forget: their imagination knows more freedom than the imagination of a grown up, even though the capacity of imagining is still there in children and adults alike.
    How about this:
    Re-find the freedom of imagination, so you can look at known and familiar things in a new way ๐Ÿ™‚
    Curiosity (in terms of experience of life, that I explore within LifeMechanics) means also actively engaging in the process of learning and knowing, next to strong desire to learn and know. Doing will get you plenty of new experiences to write about.
    Have fun

  4. Personally I rely on my feelings to write and I never lack feelings that need to be explored.

  5. After publishing two books I got writer’s block pretty badly and lost my self confidence too. Since I started writing my blog from Apri this year, things seems to be easing up quite a bit. Am re discovering the joy of writing with no expectations except having fun.

    1. Hey Diti ๐Ÿ˜ƒ

      Congratulations on your two books!

      That’s such an important lesson. Life really begins when we let go of expectations!

  6. Go for a long walk in nature. No podcasts, no music – just a slow mindful walk in the woods. Ideas will come to you I guarantee it. If that fails, write when you’re feeling emotional. I often say that emotions are a writer’s best friend.
    I hope you’re well Billy ๐Ÿ™

    1. Hey AP!

      Nature is the richest source of inspiration! Emotions are the jet fuel to a writer’s fire!

      It’s always a pleasure hearing from you, my friend๐Ÿ˜Š

      Stay safe!

  7. These include monk-like dedication, soldier-like loyalty and child-like curiosity.

    Once I lost that imaginative playfulness, writing became a chore. I feel most at ease and creative when my characterson are allowed to come alive.

  8. I take my 11-year-old little wise dog on a long walk, try to write at least 1 page daily with the help of journal prompts about everything from the everyday to the big questions in life.

    And I definitely try to divert my thoughts and feelings about writerยดs block by working with other creative projects like painting, DIY crafts, and music (trying to learn the acoustic guitar).

    Yes, writing is hard work, but it is also irresistible, an expression of art, and necessary for writers.

    To me, writing is a healing thing, too. So I write both when Iยดm happy and when Iยดm sad. It helps me get back in the saddle after a period of recovery from bipolar disorder and anxiety. And it inspires me to write, so, fortunately, the effects of my ailments are minimal.

    Blessed be, a block can be made go away. Just keep on writing something.

    Many regards

    Henriette Pedersen.

  9. The period of calm sea versus high tide are two different things. The time of rest and writers blocks are not the same. Your brain needs to rest and recoup and do bit of nothing before it wants to produce another piece of writing, but writing block or any kind of block in your creative life, itโ€™s something that needs to be examined deeper, some discipline cone to mind

  10. Sometime, too much mind clutter can cause writerโ€™s block for me. Television, the internet, even books can suck me in so my own ideas wonโ€™t flow. Quiet, alone time helps. No distractionsโ€ฆjust let my mind wander. Mindless, physical work can also free up my thoughts.

  11. I am still a relative newbie, so I have not yet found myself completely stuck. I have pages and pages of ‘ideas’ waiting to be brought to life. But there are times when not one of them inspires me to take them further. It’s like sitting down to watch Netflix and despite hundreds of movies and TV shows to choose from, as I scroll mindlessly through them, not one grabs me. In disgust I cast the remote controller away from me and grumble, “Absolutely nothing to watch!” Last week, I picked one idea (not convinced I could do anything with it on that particular day) and began to write. As I wrote, other ideas started to creep in. I let them have some space and pushed the other stuff I’d written further down the screen, fully intending to work it back in later. By the time I had finished my blog post, the original idea and text had been deleted and “Hey presto!” a completely different article was born. Strangely enough, I really loved it. Sometimes the ideas that ‘evolve’ are better than the ones I had planned.

      1. You know what? Reading it back, I think it’s the kernel of a new blog post for me. OK if I link back to you? You were the inspiration. ๐Ÿ™‚

    All comments are to the point and I agree to all of them. Probably the main block I do face is that I like to polish my writing enough before publishing which most of the times make some of them go to the cold bag and often raise my procrastination! There must be something to get rid of this! Please advise!

    1. Hey Ajay!

      I agree with you. There’s a wealth of advice in the comment section.

      I find myself in that zone too. Wanting to polish to perfection. One of the things that helps me is to treat my drafts like meat straight from the freezer. Let it thaw.

      Write. Rest. Look at it. Edit. Rest. Give it one last look. Send it to the world.

      As Da Vinci said: “Art is never finished. It is only abandoned.”

      1. That’s great! Write, rest, look at it, edit, rest, give it one last look and send it to the world! And Da Vinci’s saying too! Thanks a lot! I’ll try follow!

  13. I’m new in the blogosphere but I know that most people that have this ‘smooth sea’ is not because there’s nothing to write about, but they’re not thinking well enough, not trying to think of new ideas, not seeing life from an angle that’s different from the angle they’ve been looking at for a long while. If they don’t try a different perspective, they’ll just run out of things to write about and they’d call it a block. Or maybe they’re too afraid or too lazy to explore new things and absorb everything around them and express themselves the way they want. They feel this world has some dialect they’re supposed to use and if they use another, they’d be thrown into some garbage can.

  14. I can trust my laziness to not write even I’m brimming with ideas ๐Ÿ˜‚ However, my recent longish gap in writing has been on account of not having my laptop.

  15. I tend to go with those waves, if its ‘high’, surf with it & if its ‘low’ just glide.. Sometimes your mind just needs a little break. Go with the flow. I tend to keep writing no matter how little (word prompts are a great tool). As long as you write something ๐Ÿ˜‰ Thank you for this post Billy!

    1. Hey Bernie!

      I couldn’t agree more!

      The only writing that doesn’t count is the writing that didn’t happen.

      Thank you for making time ๐Ÿ˜Š

  16. interesting post… yes, it will come: a slump or writer’s block… I wade through it by researching and reading more articles, books, or materials, especially electronic ones, related to my niche… and then more than enough ideas or inspiration comes afresh and easily lightens me up, especially when I previously had passion

    1. Then I add a verb(maybe “flew). “The house flew”. Then I write whatever comes into mind until I hit on a great idea. I keep repeating the process if I have to, as long as I’m consistently writing every day.

  17. I am currently going through this phase and the block in my mind is further irritated by the empty page looking back at me every time I write. At this time I try not to force myself to think or the creative juices to flow and wait for an idea to strike, for the tide to be high!

  18. I have learned that a passionnate writer has to write everyday of his life.
    “Writing becomes like breathing”

    Love the way you put this article together ๐Ÿ˜

  19. I think that every creativity has the meaning and explore writer views. Writing is thought of our own observation and perception which influence to write. Every writing meaningful and sensible thought.

  20. I believe mindfulness gets over come by the Do-Dos. The “do this”, “do that”, “do it at whatever cost”, and the ever present “do what you have to do”. . . and it’s good sometimes, I think, to be at a standstill. So why not do like a quarterback and get comfy in your pocket?!? There’s the place one can find options.
    Of course I could suggest the idea that free radicals find leisure in the base of our brain and an innovative line of vitamins are suggestively a great play in the right direction. But then I’d be trying to sound smart.


  21. This is the most relatable post i’ve read today. I’ve also come across something new. Tabula rasa. Gotta use that in my work some day๐Ÿ˜„.

  22. Hi.
    I am visiting your blog for the first time, and I must say, I could so relate to this post. For today is one of those days when I wish to write, but haven’t been able to come up with a single idea so far. Also, it being a Monday, the enthusiasm to write is lacking. Maybe I will take inspiration from your post and come up with something to write about. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Hey Shilpa๐Ÿ˜ƒ

      Your words warm my soul with happiness ๐Ÿ˜Š

      Thank you for making time.

      By all means, draw as much inspiration as you can.

      One thought, one word, one sentence, one paragraph at a time.

      I look forward to reading from you!

  23. I’m thankful to have served some time as a journalist, and thus was not allowed the leisure of being blocked. I still feel that way from time to time though, and when I do, especially for blogging, I force myself to write the crappiest drivel I can think of. At the very least, that proves to me that I can actually write if I want to. Just not well. Anyway, thanks for this post!

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