Write Your Way Through It

Hi friends.

Things feel tough right now.

For some of you, it has always felt this way. For some of you, it has always been hard. You have learned by now how to handle it. You have written your way through it. And you will continue to do so.

But some of you may feel like you have been sitting in the middle of a slow-moving house fire for months and months, the flames closing in on you, but never quite igniting the room where you sit. It feels the worst it has ever been, and yet, you are waiting for something even worse to happen. You think: How could I possibly write right now?

Reframe the conversation. Remember what writing does for you. Remember that writing takes you to new places, gives you a place to put your feelings, and that you feel better when you are done for the day.

Write your way through it.

Look, for a moment, at what you really have around you.

Do you have paper and a pen? Do you have a quiet corner in your home, or can you walk somewhere nearby, a park, a bus bench on a corner? You actually have everything you need to write. It is one of the simplest art forms, materials-wise. What a gift. Can you see it that way? As a gift.

Friends, whatever happens now, whatever happens soon, whatever happens after that: it won’t really be over for a while, and even if some bad things end, if things feel easier now and then (for surely they do, for everyone, sometimes), something else will pop up again to make life complicated again. Are you not going to do your work forever?

Or are you going to start right now?

Where are the pens? Are they in a drawer? Collected in a coffee can or a mug on your desk? Find the notebook, forgotten in the backpack, or on your nightstand. Open it to the first empty page.

Shut off your computer or your television set, stay away from the podcasts, too. Another little gift.

Begin at the top, put it all down on the page. Enjoy, for a moment, the crisp sound the page makes when you flip it over. Write your way through it.


You are reading Craft Talk, a weekly newsletter about writing from Jami Attenberg. I’m also on twitter and instagram. I try to answer comments as best I can, which are open to paid subscribers. You can subscribe here or give a gift subscription here. (If you are a teacher let me know, and I will give you a free subscription.) Fifty percent of the proceeds will go to various cultural, educational, and social justice organizations in New Orleans.