Throwback: I AM therefore I write

Following is a post from May 24, 2008.  I had had my blog for several months, but was still finding my way.  [And, frankly, I’m still finding my way but the journey is fun.  I don’t know that I really want to make my destination.]  I’m re-posting for two reasons: (1) to remind myself how quickly time goes by; (2) to remind myself (and perhaps others) that first you write for yourself.  Cheers!


This is my new “slogan” for my blog. I know it’s not original, that you can find this phrase in use on thousands of websites (albeit with varied punctuation and case); but, I think the sentiment of the phrase captures why I write, or rather, why I cannot not write. I’ve gone through periods of not writing. I’ve had my dry spells, and, during those times, my sense of self would suffer. I’d feel lost and anxious. Lost because without writing I have no bearings. Anxious because words would still be welling up inside, waiting for an outlet.

My writing really dried up while I was a doctoral student in the social sciences (long story short: I bailed out of the program once all my miserable coursework was completed). Although I was considered a good writer by my professors, I hated the kind of writing I was expected to do. It was tedious, monotonous, one-dimensional. My school was neck-deep in quantitative studies, the kind of studies that attracted federal funding, the kind that reduced hundreds, even thousands of people into one data point. Any student who proposed a qualitative study, one that might involve in-depth interviews of a handful of subjects, would be encouraged to seek their degree elsewhere.

For a fiction writer, this was a lousy place to be, and because I had to struggle so hard to not tell stories in my papers, I eventually became depressed. I knew I had to drop out of the program when I found that I was no longer able to write, that every time I sat in front of my computer and tried again to work on my “specialization” paper, I’d break down and cry. I could never get past the first paragraph.

So I dropped out (unofficially, of course). My road to recovery involved one English course with a wonderfully encouraging professor, two years with a writing mentor, and now this blog. Now I find it difficult to not write whenever I’m on the computer. Now I feel more fully myself than I ever have in my life . . . because I am therefore I write.

What’s your story? What was the worst dry spell or writer’s block that you ever experienced? How did you recover?

25 thoughts on “Throwback: I AM therefore I write

  1. I’m so glad you (re)shared this, Marie. Life contributes to dry spells with writing, doesn’t it? I’m glad you were able to refocus and align your life to write things that feed your soul and nurture your spirit. Those are the places where the well never runs dry.

  2. That dry spell that lasted for 20 years while my kids were growing up? That one? Sigh. Making up for lost time now! I can imagine that the writing for that sociology “stuff” was really tedious.

    • Tedious is the perfect word 🙂 And if making up for lost time means having a book of poetry published, then you are doing fine 🙂

  3. Great post Marie, and very happy to have found your blog. You clearly made a good choice. I too find writing compelling, though if I get very caught up in editing it’s sometimes hard to then go back and write a new piece of fiction – such a different skill set. Love that you mention being a knitter. I’ve recently restarted and am loving it. So nice to have that 3-dimentinal experience after so much computer time with writing. Also just discovered Tunisian crochet, so that’s fun too.

    • A.K., thank you for coming by and for your kind words. Good point that editing and writing require different skill sets. I think that’s why I like NaNoWriMo so much for writing: I can’t edit if I want to reach my goal of 50K in 30 days. It’s quite freeing 😉 And Tunisian crochet … that’s something I have tried yet although I think I have a Tunisian hook around somewhere. I do love knitting, and since it uses a different part of my brain, it also frees me to “write in my head.” Cheers!

  4. Was fun to go back and take a look at the person you were. I think you did the right thing in dumping the coarse work. Who cares for a PhD who is always crying?

  5. I go through spells of writer’s block. But one of the worst occurred several years ago when I submitted a middle grade novel to an editor, who kept it for a year only to reject it. She then told me she wanted to reject it a month after receiving it, but didn’t have the heart to do so. She let me live in vain hope for a year! So I told myself, “That’s it. I won’t write again.” I kept that vow for three years. I didn’t have the heart to put pen to paper. During that time, I realized that I punished myself more than anyone else.

    • A whole year! She did you no favors with that. If she had told you as soon as she knew, you could have sent it to another editor and maybe saved yourself 3 years of grief. I’m glad you’re back to writing 🙂

  6. I loved reading your throwback post, Marie. I had a brief dry spell in 2011 when I lost my job. I was too busy job hunting and going back to school to write anything. I did manage to squeeze in a short story that became my first published piece…and I only wrote it to release a little stress. 🙂

    • Hey, Jill, that’s really neat that a story you wrote to relieve stress got published :). I think blogging is really helping me to keep the dry spells at bay. Goes well with my rationale that any bit of writing is writing whether it be a poem, short story, chapter, or blog post 😉

  7. Fun peeking into the blogging past. Been there with the tedious writing before, especially at work. It seems when people know you’re a writer (they never say author), they think you simply love to write anything. Not sure why this gets translated to handing all data entry to me. Such a strange world.

    I kind of had a dry period for a few years where I only tooled around with outlines and notebooks. The jobs I had were so exhausting that I never had the energy or time to sit down for novel writing. Kind of thought things would fall into place eventually and I could get back to it, but it never happened. A job would settle and then there would be a reason to leave like the company going under or hours being cut to barely part-time. I kind of just said ‘forget it’ (different ‘f’ word in reality) and decided to go full tilt into the writing since nothing else was sticking.

    Glad to see you’ve been sticking with the blogging and writing for so long.

    • Thanks, Charles! My biggest challenge these days is having energy left over from my day job. Even on weekends I often feel one whole day is needed just to transition from the work week to real life. I’d love to walk away from my day job, but I’m close enough to “retiring” that it makes more sense to hang in there. At least I still find time to blog 😉

      • Weekends really don’t feel long enough to recover energy. Especially if all the stuff you couldn’t get to during the week have to be taken care of. Hope you hang in there until retirement. Doesn’t seem to be a common occurrence these days.

        • Yeah, weekends are never long enough. Retirement (if it becomes a reality) will be an interesting test of our ability to live frugally 😉

  8. I’m glad you were able to find your way! My worst period (which didn’t last too long) was when my flash drive died and l lost all my work. I found this as an opportunity to start over because there were a lot of unfinished drafts (and probably not very good ones, lol). Writing improves with time and practice and l like to see that flash drive as a “first draft” of itself. I now backup my writing in three different places… l learned my lesson.

    • Hi, Rachel! Oh, goodness, I’ve had those experiences too (note that experiences is plural :)) I back up to a memory stick and email drafts to myself when I’m working off different devices. A little crazy-making but better than losing everything 🙂

  9. JoniB, thanks for dropping by! Yes, by all means, keep writing! Please continue to visit my blog for support, but also check out the websites listed on my sidebar. The great thing about the internet is that you don’t have to struggle alone any more. Visit the writing communities at Zoetrope and New Bard Press. You’ll find some thoughtful and supportive fellow writers. Tell your internal editor that she needs to just shut up and wait. There’s always time for editing, but writing is what you need to do now. You know, although I was writing stories when I was 9 years old, I feel like a late bloomer. It’s taken me this long (I’m over 50 now) to finally put my foot down and say, “it’s now or never.” Maybe it’s just having gotten on this side of menopause, but I’ve grown to care less about what others think of my writing and more about the act of writing itself. At the least, I am writing, and that’s what counts. Let that be your mantra, too.

  10. Just found your blog. I love this particular article!

    I never got a chance to go to college, but having my high school term papers marked up all over in red ink shut me down for over 30 years. I’m struggling to find my way now. Journaling helps but it is hard to kick over into fiction. The internal editor is too strong and too loud.

    Anyway, keep writing! I’ll keep trying!

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