Before taking time off, I always worry that if I stop writing, cease searching for words, forego thinking about how to put words on paper, I’ll forget how to swim and lose the ability to find words ever again.
Every year it’s the same. When I close my journals and put away my works-in-progress so that I can rest and let the well of words refill again, I fear that I’ll never be able to write again, and worry endlessly that I won’t ever again feel words flowing through my pen or see sentences and paragraphs forming beneath my hand.
No sooner do I leave my desk behind, though, than these fears fade away. There is no longer any stress from work. I can sit peacefully and gaze out over the water (where I spent so much time swimming over the past year) and enjoy the view without needing to lift a pen to paper to capture an image, a scene, a thought.
And each year resting from work magically revives the soul and, just as magically, gives the imagination a chance to plant new seeds that will ripen (with faith and determination) into new stories for me to tell in the months ahead once I return to my desk.
Inevitably, the time to return to the water comes, and, just as inevitably, I become hesitant and doubtful and wonder if I'll have anything worthwhile to say. Will the stories that I hope to tell this year be compelling? Will I find the right words?
The only way to answer these questions is to begin work again, to pick up my pen and start writing, to let my fingers play over the computer keyboard, to close my eyes and imagine the words flowing through my pen or pencil as my hand moves across the page.
“Writing is an exploration,” says E.L. Doctorow. “You start from nothing and learn as you go.”
As 2013 begins, I’m stepping to the end of the diving board and jumping, trusting words to come, eager to explore the world, learning as I go.
Best of luck with your own leaps of faith in the year ahead.