Inertia, a Writer’s Dangerously Pleasant Anchor

26 Aug

I just don’t feel like writing today. This makes no sense because I love to write. However, today I just want to lie here, wrapped in this cozy blanket of summer memories, and watch the world pass me by.

Corn and bean field: Succotash

Have you ever wondered where succotash grows? Well, here’s a crop just outside Lancaster PA. 🙂

It has been a wonderful summer, filled with travel and family, good food, and idleness out the wazoo. I played in the salt, hung out with Marine buddies I haven’t seen in nearly ten years, and stumbled upon a succotash field—all adventures that would not have been possible if I hadn’t left my writing chair. All the while, my trusty laptop has sat idle by my side. Sure, I checked email and played a few crossword puzzles with the thing, but I wrote only two blog posts in six weeks. I thought about writing. I pondered various blog topics. I felt inspired to write on many occasions by my surroundings. But somehow, no words actually made it to the page.

Regrettably, I’ll bet that if I were to add up all the moments between actual adventures, I’d probably realize that I spent much of my summer doing absolutely nothing…staring at the miles upon miles of Iowa cornfields as we drove past, sitting in hotel rooms gazing at mindless television just because the thing was on, watching other people go about their lives. Prime, inspiration-filled writing days down the drain.

Boats on the Trent River

Watching the boats at sunrise. What would I name my boat? That could be an entire blog…

On my most recent trip to a U.S. Marine Combat Correspondents conference in New Bern, NC, I spent much of our non-meeting time looking out the hotel window at the lovely Trent River Harbor, a relaxed and peaceful boat-packed city where time practically stands still. By my third day there I’d given names to the two SCUBA divers who leave every morning on what are surely the most amazing quests I’ll never know about; to the dog walker and her Westie, who stopped to greet everyone on the path; and to the man with the bucket and hose, who moved methodically from one pier to the next, scrubbing yachts in preparation for weekend voyages. But instead of writing about them, I just stared and thought.

I wasted nearly an hour one morning trying to catch a train bridge in motion. Every time I looked out the window, it would be either opened to boat traffic or closed to let a train chug across the river…yet I could never catch it in the act of rotating.  I’d leave my post for only a second and, bam, it would change.

I wasted more time wondering how many copies of Caged Sparrow I’d have to sell to afford a yacht of my own, what I’d name my yacht if I had one (so far, I’m leaning toward Page Turner), and wondering what I’d actually do on it because I wouldn’t want to sail it myself. I think that if I couldn’t convince my hubby to skipper the thing, I’d just keep it moored and spend every waking minute on the shaded deck enjoying the rhythmic rocking and smell of salt water while I write…or think about writing.

I told myself it’s okay.

You’re on vacation. You can write when you get home.

But I didn’t. I kept watching the world. It feels terrible to not write, as if there’s an anchor pulling my creativity to the bottom of the river, and potential beauty is just sinking away…but I’m lying here, letting it happen.

This morning, after being back four days and finding myself still in idle mode, it struck me. I’ve inertia-ed myself into a state of mind atrophy. I liked doing nothing. I liked it too much. I think our minds react to laziness the same way our bodies do, and the only way to get back on the writing track is to actually write. So here I am, with nothing special to say but the urge to say it anyway. We’ll call this blog my stretching exercise, and hopefully I’ll be back running next week.

Hey, would you like to help? Let’s try a writing experiment. Give me a topic, any topic…preferably something that’s not math-related. Either add it to the comment box below or send me an email at I’ll blog about the top three suggestions throughout September (right after I tell you why I think retired Marines are the greatest people on earth.)

Who knows, perhaps you’re the one who will wake me up, for which I thank you in advance, or I will after my nap.


How long will you lie there, you sluggard? When will you get up from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest—and poverty will come on you like a thief and scarcity like an armed man. — Proverbs 6:9-11

9 Responses to “Inertia, a Writer’s Dangerously Pleasant Anchor”

  1. Elaine Beachy August 26, 2015 at 12:32 pm #

    Rose Marie, it’s okay to just “be.” Sometimes we get so busy and rush around from one thing to another that we take no time to rest and just “be.” Our minds need refreshing, too. As to what to write, I’d suggest asking the Holy Spirit for ideas. That’s what I do, because He knows what I need to write about. I need to get back to writing in my blog too! But I refuse to pressure myself; it’s counter-productive! Blessings to you for inspiration!

    • pjoy93 August 26, 2015 at 4:41 pm #

      Sure, that’s where my stories come from anyway, but I do like the idea of being challenged. 🙂

  2. Bobbie August 26, 2015 at 1:07 pm #

    I love to read sweet, simple stories of faith, families, and travel. There are too many awful violent things in the world already trying to occupy my thoughts that I seek those kinds of stories as sort of a counterattack. I’m sure you will come up with something terrific, pretty much anything you write about will be wonderful. 🙂

    • pjoy93 August 26, 2015 at 4:41 pm #

      Aw, thanks. I like those stories too.

  3. Robert August 26, 2015 at 2:56 pm #

    Boat name: Fiscal Irresponsibility. One of my friends from my Naval War College days bought a boat, and let his wife pick the name. Predictable but still clever.

    Hope the muse strikes again soon. Get out there. The idea will find you.

    • pjoy93 August 26, 2015 at 4:40 pm #

      Thanks, I think so too. Nice name 🙂

  4. mary S. August 27, 2015 at 5:56 am #

    I can so relate, my mind has been going, but my fingers have been silent.
    I think you should write a blog about the story that could have been…
    thank you for the inspiration 🙂

    • pjoy93 August 27, 2015 at 9:00 am #

      Hmmm…I like that. 🙂


  1. State of the Portrait Writer Report | The Portrait Writer - December 31, 2015

    […] and Doughnuts, which lulled me into inertia, nearly bringing my writing career to a halt with its Dangerously Pleasant Anchor. I’d say the biggest revelation of August was that not everyone gets my sense of humor. The […]

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