When introduced to a new acquaintance who exclaimed, “oh, are you a writer?” a friend recently commented that “writers write”. Her statement was a preface to her main point that no, because she hasn’t been writing much lately, she isn’t really a writer. I merely observed this exchange and rode along as the conversation move on to other things, but the phrase, “writers write” lingered in my mind for several days thereafter.
It’s true: writers do write. We are compelled to write. It seems we might suffocate and die of we don’t put voice to all those thoughts in our head and all those sensations that stir in our souls. We love the feel of pens between fingers that never seem to move fast enough, and our eyes pop wide with the trill ignited by the smell of a new notebook. We write when we should be listening (or cooking or cleaning or mowing the lawn…); we write when we can’t sleep. We write in the car with the light turns red; we write in our heads when no paper can be found. Yes, writers write.
But I have to say, there are times when writers don’t write. I call it incubation. It isn’t a conscious thinking of a project or an active searching for the right words; incubation is often silent, dark, and it may feel stale. Nonetheless, incubation is necessary for writers to eventually be able to write. Sometimes incubation is meditative and reflective and when incubation is in this stage, you can actually feel the tender life of your writing being silently nurtured. Most often however, incubation takes place in the unnoticed parts of your heart and brain when you are so busy doing life that your notebooks are closed and your pens are… where are they!? (Yes, this question stirs panic.)
Here’s the thing: writers will eventually return to these busy times in their memories and when life slows down then the epiphanies are revealed. When this happens, you realize you’ve been incubating and the muse alights on all the moments of your days and suddenly, you are again writing frantically.
My point here is not to give you permission to resolve yourself t the idea of writing as a fantasy or a luxury and therefore shy away from the identity that you are a writer, but rather to claim your title and simply the stale season in the writing life.
Know that you are in a stale season because you are busy incubating and anticipate the birth of beautiful new stories that will one day emerge from these busy, hectic days. Yes, writers write, but not always. My friend’s comment made me know that she isn’t a writer wannabe, but truly a writer in incubation.