Just Write

Breathe, focus, keep your head down and . . .

keep going.

— Christina Baker Kline, interviewed by Alicia Anstead in the October 2014 issue of The Writer Magazine.

Or, as Dory sings in Finding Nemo, “Just keep swimming. . . swimming. . . swimming. . . ”

At some point in your writing life, you may think your writing is no-good, awful, horrible and no one would want to read it.

Join the Ark. Most writers, I think, are in that boat at least once.

Take the advice of Christina Baker Kline, author of Orphan Train, “Breathe, focus, keep your head down and keep going.”

Click here if you want prompts to jumpstart your writing. Click on “Comments” on any of the Write Spot Blog posts to read inspirational writing.

fish 3And just keep swimming, swimming. . . writing, writing.



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  1. Ke11y

    The writer was exhausted…giving up on ten thousand words. Moons had waxed and waned, trains arrived and departed, lives teetered on the brink, suitcases packed and unpacked, bells had rung in far off steeples, journeys were begun, finished, and yet being traveled under soft burning September skies, dogs are barking over the hill, letters are written, sealed, posted, talking of love, or fear, or fun……..and all these things might have happened but went by unnoticed because of writing. All the time the writer keeps thinking to himself: ‘What if a train arrives and he’s not there to see who gets off.’ And, because he’s a writer, he is there and no-one gets off. Loves come into his life, glows, flickers, and maybe he never noticed because of writing. Love, like a train, blows its whistle and moves off. There were tears in the back of his eyes as he fought the trepidation of having to fill the blank paper in front of him.

    Only sleep would save him from frustration and angst, and folding his arms on the desk he lay his head down.

    What’s your name, lad? The voice asks.

    Clive, sir.

    Well Clive, what’s the problem here?

    I’m exhausted, my characters lack imagination, they seem flat, uninteresting. I’m so tired…so very tired. I need to stop. I can’t write. I just cannot write anything worthwhile.

    The stranger looks over the crumpled sheets of paper, flattening them, reading the words between the creases.

    What the hell is this….the stranger cried, you’re a world famous author, you wrote something every day of your life; you finish one book and begin another.

    There they were, the very characters he’d loved as a child: Aslan, the White Witch, and here, on this very page an introduction to Edmund…look at you lying there…get up, you got to write, do you hear me…you got to get up and write about this place called Narnia…the world is waiting…waiting I tell you.

    I do write, sir, but I’m Mr. Nobody from nowhere, on my way to eternity with a dead flashlight and no ideas worth a shining.

    You listen to me, I don’t know what the hell is going on, but you are C.S. Lewis! Do you understand, world famous author!

    All I can say in my defense is I tried to write, I loved to write, as for the rest of it you may just be a madman on my deathbed.

    No, Clive, I’m no madman, I’m just a boy waiting up ahead for your stories, because more than any other person, being dead or living, you have been the one who gave me the encouragement to go on because I believed in you; believed that you worked at your craft, that your energy and vitality was how you lived your life and through your veins words pumped and those words gave life to heroes and villains and you made other authors look outstandingly dull, ridiculously inept. I came, perhaps, because of all the men who shaped my destiny you were the man I most wanted to thank, but look at you, nothing but a trier, with your hair gone wild and fuzz about your face.

    What I write, it’s just for me. I have other work to do. My whole experience is my work….I live and work as other men do, despair as other men do, play as other men do. I have to earn a living. I write in the evening. I’ve never thought of my writing as having any importance; but not to have my writing…..that is something else altogether. Anyway who would be interested in a place called Narnia? I’m simply a philosophy tutor.

    When the writer woke…he wrote on…he wrote as if possessed…as if every word was heading to some child’s ears.

    1. mcullen Post author

      I’m entertained by the many ways indicating passage of time – very creative. I enjoy this exchange . . . a peek into a writer’s inner life. I I especially like, . . . my way to eternity with a dead flashlight and no ideas worth a shining.” I enjoyed reading the entire piece!

  2. Ke11y

    Mermaids at Dawn

    I watch the clouds split, surrendering their hold on the blueness as breakers rise, bringing the tide home. The drama is unfolding. The seaborne awakenings, the deliriums of surf, the shivering of birds that hover and hang before rolling on the wing. I thought for a moment I saw the face of God filling the sky, his mouth smelling of alcohol, eyes weeping, anger rising like a flock of seagulls. Perhaps it was no more than a dream of a drowned sailor being taken home. Sometimes I have felt I have seen all I imagine. The swells rush in like hysterical monsters, battering the rocks, wreaking havoc on their own limitation. Leviathans moving unknown in the scandalous deep, toward their fate, hurled by hurricanes from ocean to ocean, moving freely in the deep, into abysses, drifting through gulfs, twisting through kelp, mingling with the shipwrecks and drunken sailors, looking to free themselves from their rolling captivity.

    It is the life of the ocean. Bottomless nights. Dawns of sunlight. Heartbreaking movement. Its life-force dictated by the moon. It’s the home of the mermaid, her forehead adorned by violet fogs one day, maelstroms curling her hair on another, black sea-horses for escorts, she moves serenely within the watery space. It is on this kind of dawn she will come, the dawn saluting her entrance, God creating the majesty, clouds doing their lazy ballets, she is coming and she is looking out for you. Passing carriers of cargo, liners like bright islands, whales songs, dolphins following her home. She is the angel of a different world.

    1. mcullen Post author

      Exquisite writing. Love the strong verbs. The opening paragraph intrigues me with the imaginative images. I also like “the home of the mermaid, her forehead adorned by violet fogs one day, maelstroms curling her hair on another, black sea-horses for escorts, she moves serenely within the watery space.” Lovely writing.

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