Window on Writing: When Words Won’t Come

When the body’s weary

and words won’t come

take a nap

take a walk

snap some pictures



and chew on words

that nourish your writer’s heart.


The line of words fingers your own heart. It invades arteries, and enters the heart on a flood of breath; it presses the moving rims of thick valves; it palpates the dark muscle strong as horses, feeling for something, it knows not what. A queer picture beds in the muscle like a worm encysted–some film of feeling, some song forgotten, a scene in a dark bedroom, a corner of the woodlot, a terrible dining room, that exalting sidewalk; these fragments are heavy with meaning. The line of words peels them back, dissects them out. Will the bared tissue burn? Do you want to expose these scenes to the light? You may locate them and leave them, or poke the spot hard till the sore bleeds on your finger, and write with that blood. If the sore spot is not fatal, if it does not grow and block something, you can use its power for many years, until the heart resorbs it. ~Annie Dillard in The Writing Life.

Thanks, Carol Garvin, for this wonderful little book. I may be one of the few writers who have not read it. Yet.



    • Sandra says

      Absolutely works for me. :) As long as I don’t actually lie down. My husband came home the other night and wondered what the red spot on my forehead was–the indent from head on keyboard.

    • Sandra says

      Thanks, Susan. These pictures were taken from way far away. Love how close I can get with 35X.