Creativity's Workshop

Taming and Training Your Creativity to Write Abundantly

The Fear of Being Wordless


The Atacama desert

Image Credit: Microsoft Clip Art

I’m one of those writers who bubbles with words. I’m always scribbling in a notebook. I’ve lost count of the number of notebooks I have ‘going’ at any one time. Each has its own purpose. They are there to collect my words as they bubble up inside me.

Except when the words dry up.

One of the greatest fears a writer has is the fear of their words disappearing.

What happens if one day I sit down at my desk and nothing comes?

That happened to me just before leaving for Malaysia. I had so many things to do, to finish, to check before I left that the words just dried up.

I didn’t want to write. I didn’t even want to read.

No bubbling.


I was empty.

I no longer felt like me.

Who was I without words?

Accepting the Fear

I’d been in this situation before. This time, I decided, I was going to treat it differently.

Instead of dissolving into a panic and wondering a) where my words had gone and b) if they’d ever come back, I would trust.

I know my Creativity. We’re friends. We’ve been through thick and thin together. Through torrents of words and wordless deserts.

She looked tired. I looked tired. We needed a break.

No pressure to write. No pressure to read. A proper break.

I still felt strange – like a part of me was missing – but I accepted it. I had been here before and I would make it through to the other side, not by forcing myself but by relaxing.

The Niggling Itch Returns

The desert lasted through Thursday and Friday and Saturday and Sunday.

On Sunday someone tried to snatch my bag. The emotion of the day and all that had gone before was overwhelming. I wrapped up our belongings in my husband’s jumper and carried them home sobbing.

I didn’t want to write about what had happened, not even to tell my family. I’d had enough.

But then, sometime early Monday morning, while barely awake, Creativity and I felt the merest hint of a bubble. And then another, and another.

By breakfast time a short story was already forming, based on the bag snatcher from the day before. Reaching for a notebook, we set to work. Eight pages of notes followed.

The words were back. And they were back with a vengeance.

I grinned. My Creativity grinned.

With a little trust and acceptance we’d made it through another wordless desert.

Have you ever experienced something similar? How do you deal with your wordless deserts?


Author: Jessica

I'm a writer who refuses to pin myself down to one genre, hopping from science-fiction and fantasy through to literary and even the odd western now and then. Check out what I've written at or follow me on Twitter @jessbaverstock.

6 thoughts on “The Fear of Being Wordless

  1. Sometimes I take a break. Sometimes I look at prompts and let them inspire me. I guess it depends. If the words just need coached out of me, I do the latter. If they aren’t there at all, I take a break because I might be burnt out.

  2. I am never without words — in my head if I am in outward silence.

  3. Hi Jessica,
    Like you and a few of your other readers, my mind is pretty much constantly whirring with ideas. I, too, have a few notebooks where I write the ideas down and whatnot. I’ve yet to experience the words drying up entirely. My struggle is they sometimes get jammed up like a knotty skein of yarn I’m trying to untangle and figure out in order to roll it into a manageable ball.

    I’m a sucker for punishment; I come to the page and try again the next day 🙂

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