Writer Problems: Word Drought

I like to think I have acquired a decent collection of words over the course of my life. Words are, after all, a writer’s currency. Barring the ability to articulate a certain vision, words are arguably the most important tool in a writer’s arsenal.

Without them we are useless.

However, ever so often, I find myself in a bit of a quandary.

Occasionally, when I sit down to write, I experience what I refer to as a “word drought.”

A word drought occurs when I have envisioned the perfect scene, have all the cast of characters in attendance, the muse of creation is upon me…..and I proceed to forget absolutely every word I learned past grade 5.

There doesn’t appear to be a particular cause for this phenomenon. I could be writing perfectly well for days prior to losing all grasp of the English language. It just casts its dark shadow over me for no apparent reason and lounges about like an unwanted house guest until it eventually toddles off at its own leisure.

I could pour over all the classic works, trying to absorb the elegant prose through osmosis, but the words will not stick to me. They will slide off like water from a duck’s back and leave me grasping blindly for something––anything–– that will help my story make sense.

Seriously. It’s a problem.

It’s worse than normal old writer’s block. At least with writer’s block you can hack at a scene until something gives way and you find a solution to the self-induced hell you have placed yourself in. When you have no words, you have no mobility. You are stuck. It’s not a simple mind-over-matter situation. You have no matter and your mind is Swiss cheese.

I say you very optimistically, reader, because I desperately hope this happens to other people and I don’t have early onset dementia.

Me after trying to write for 20 minutes
Me after trying to write for 2 hours

There is nothing for it but to keep writing and hope the words return like the prodigal son.

Please, words, come home.

I won’t take you for granted ever again.

4 thoughts on “Writer Problems: Word Drought

  1. Sometimes, when a scene comes to me, it comes in the exact words I need.

    Other times, I know what is supposed to happen, so I just write down WHAT HAPPENED but I am forced to go back later to make sure the scene is well-put. On the first pass-through, it is sometimes as though I am translating something written by kid me, into intelligible language.

    Even after my revisions, my editor has caught many instances where I will use the identical word two times or more in the space of a sentence or two. Usually this is not a stylistic choice I made. My brain just got in a rut.

    I think there are even memes about this problem. You are not alone.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. It’s good to know I’m not alone lol.I run into the same problem of using the same word too many times. The most frustrating part is knowing there is another word for what you are wanting to articulate but not remembering what it is. I may need an editor as well once I get a few drafts deep in this monster.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. You’ve got this, Rachael! For me, it usually takes finding a new idea to get excited about. Maybe your plot needs a new twist or your character arc needs some fun new details. I wish you luck in getting past the block! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

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