When a writer experiences a phenomena called “writer’s block,”
where he sits and stares at a blank piece of paper or an empty computer screen for hours on end,
there’s one thing he should always do.
No matter what.
placing one word in front of another,
even when no words seem to come.
Move the pen or click the keyboard.
Creating sentences as if the words are winding down an unfamiliar road.
Even if the journey has no real destination,
just keep writing.
And see where the words lead.
So I’m trying it tonight.
I’m typing when I have nothing to say
I’m weaving words together only to remind my fingers they’re still able to transform blank space.
And as I type,
I wonder if my whole life hasn’t been a lot like tonight.
I remember wanting to be a lifeguard so badly in high school.
I loved swimming.
I loved spending my summer days at the neighborhood pool.
And I loved the idea of being trained to save someone’s life.
But I had one big problem.
I didn’t know how to dive.
No matter how many times I stood at the edge of the pool with my feet and arms positioned perfectly,
I couldn’t figure out a way to lift my body high enough to allow my hands and head space to enter the water before my feet.
It sounds silly now,
but I remember the fear and the frustration of knowing exactly what I needed to do
yet not being able to muster the courage to even try.
Looking back, I wonder what would have happened if I would have been able to push myself up,
risk a belly flop,
and try to dive anyway.
I may have been a lifeguard for many summers.
I may have even saved a life along the way.
But I never even tried.
I backed away from the pool’s edge every single time.
And over the years,
I convinced myself I didn’t have what it takes to hold this particular summer job.
A lot of time has passed since then.
And life has brought me to the edge of the pool over and over again on many occasions,
just long enough to get nervous,
giving fear time to step in and push me away.
But tonight I was determined.
So I positioned myself perfectly,
pushed myself up,
and risked a belly flop
in order to get something out of my head and onto my blank screen.
I’m fairly certain I didn’t save a life with these words,
but I do believe I saved myself from throwing in the towel on something I love.
I stood at the edge for a long time.
And then typing again.
If writing is a journey,
I reached a special destination with these words,
because with them,
I’ve been reminded of something I desperately needed to know.
I’m still capable of doing the one thing I love most of all.
I may never be a diver,
but even when I struggle to find the first word,
I’ll always be a writer.
If Marian Roach Smith is correct in saying, “reading is taking a walk with a writer,”
then “thank you”
for taking this very special walk with me.