Newton’s First Law Of Writing

I never know what to do with the wordless days—the days that dawn far off the map I’d charted for them the night before, the days that start with too-heavy eyelids and swampwater focus and maybe a child throwing up in the other room. Just show up is the right answer to every artistic indecision; I know this. But on the wordless days, showing up feels like wishful thinking and irresponsibility rolled into one—me, sitting blank-eyed in front of my computer while the minutes slip by unharnessed. I could be putting lunch together, paying the bills, writing emails, scrubbing winter grime off the windows. Wouldn’t it be better to spend this time attending to other responsibilities so that I’ll be unencumbered whenever inspiration does decide to hit?

I know the answer to this one too. It’s the law of inertia: an object at rest staying at rest and an object in motion staying in motion. In the long run, it is far easier to continue the forward motion of writing (or working out, or communicating with my spouse, or keeping an open house) than to have to restart it once the friction of daily life has been allowed to grind it to a halt. If I don’t show up today because I feel disconnected from my work, I will only be perpetuating that disconnect. Tomorrow will be harder, and the day after that even more so, and eventually I will need to exert tremendous effort to jumpstart what was once a flawed but fulfilling rhythm. (I should know this well by now; I’ve repeated the cycle no less than several hundred frustrating times over the years.)

Objects in motion stay in motion, and so I’m doing my best to show up even on these uncharted days when staring down a blank page seems like the least logical use of my time. Just half an hour. Just two or three unremarkable paragraphs. Just enough for forward momentum to win out over the slow drag of gravity and its pull toward the equal and devastatingly opposite inertia of wordlessness.

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  1. I am glad you showed up today. I am sick. It is so nice to have you as company. I am hoping that by morning I will feel like myself again. And about that Momastery post. YES. I think I even shared that one on Facebook, which I rarely do. I want to be that ninja too! Your words today were as beautiful as ever…just so you know that. xoxxo

  2. For someone with nothing to say, you said it very well 🙂 I understand that inertia. I think we all do. I’m a prisoner to it myself at the moment. I started a blog back several months ago; wrote pretty faithfully for awhile and then let it slowly peter out…like all the others I’ve ever started. I want to get back to it, and have no good reason not to, except what you call “wordlessness”. I don’t feel I have anything worth putting out there. Nothing truly worth the imposition it would be on other people’s time to read. Diet is another area that suffers from this inertia you discuss. It really is easy to maintain the discipline once it’s up and rolling nicely. Let it slow down, or STOP, God forbid!, and getting it moving again seems like more trouble than it’s worth…until you feel the belt start to tighten up again. Yes, overcoming initial inertia is so much harder than simply doing the daily duty of keeping the ball rolling. I hear you, girl. Thanks for the reminder!

  3. Objects in motion stay in motion: YES. A thousand times yes. Just the reminder I needed. Well said, for someone with nothing to say…and thanks I needed that as well.

  4. Good for you just showing up. I feel disgruntled on days like that, squished, repressed, suffocated. I’m learning that I can show up just for me, even when I’m not ready to show up for the world. 🙂

  5. Megsie – Let’s pretend that I took this long replying to your comment because I was hoping you’d be better and NOT because I can’t seem to keep up with anything these days. 🙂 I do hope that you’re doing better, and either way, I’m glad to have you here!

    Jeff –Diet. Oof. Why can’t things that are good for us be easier and/or TASTIER?? For all that I enjoy a good salad, it is not nor ever will be the same as pizza margherita.

    Liz – This someone with nothing to say thanks you. 😀

    Krista – “Squished” is the perfect description, even though there’s nothing very tangible doing the squishing. Squished by our own neuroses, perhaps? Love you, friend… and FYI, you are the QUEEN of showing up even when you’re not feeling top-notch!

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