I used to worry that I had Writer's Block. I've been worried about that, actually, for a long time, for more years than I care to say. I started writing when I was, oh, about six, not long after I learned to read. It must have seemed fascinating to me, so I started writing little stories about going to the farm, and having a best friend, and about doing things with my sister and brother. Some of the stories were true, and some were things I wished were true. For example, once I wrote a story called, A Girl On Our Baseball Team. I think the plot is pretty obvious, but actually, I am not good at baseball, or any other sport, for that matter. But I wished that I was. And I can't find that story any more, so I can't go back and find out how I managed to write a story about baseball, when I knew so little about it. I suppose I was more fearless then.
But ideas haven't poured out of me for a long time. I no longer write fiction. I do write sermons. Last year I wrote some dramatic monologues for Lent. I gave myself the assignment and forced myself -- and then I had a good time with it. But if I hadn't given myself the assignment I wouldn't have done it.
Throughout the years, I have bought a lot of books to help me with my Writer's Block. Most of them were books of writing exercises, pictures, things to stimulate the imagination. A lot of them had great layout and cool graphics. Some had a daily devotional feel to them, which I like. But the only book about writing that has ever made me actually feel like writing was Brenda Ueland's little book, If You Want to Write. It doesn't have any exercises for writing in it. And it was written in about 1938, I believe. I recently went back to take a look at it, and discovered that one of her first sentences is "Everyone is talented, original and has something important to say."
I think that Ms. Ueland would have really appreciated and approved of the "blog" phenomenon happening now. "Blogs" give ordinary people a chance to get out there, and be heard -- and she was really for that. She felt most people's natural talent and curiosity were stifled by duty and obligation. She wanted to free that original person with stories to tell. I imagine that if she was alive today, she'd be online reading "blogs" often, and be fascinated with them.
There's also a quote from early in the book that I want to remember:
"For when you come to think of it, the only way to love a person is not, as the stereotyped Christian notion is, to coddle them and bring them soup when they are sick, but by listening to them and seeing and believing in the god, in the poet, in them. For by doing this, you keep the god and the poetry alive and make it flourish."
May we be among the story-tellers and among the listeners, both online, and in person.