ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Clumsy, Awkward Words: How To Keep Writing When The Words Don’t Come Easily

Updated on March 25, 2017

Earlier today I was writing and, much to my dismay, the words weren’t coming easily. In fact, writing was such a slog you may have been able to convince me I’d be better off doing accounting—which I’m comically ill-suited for—instead. Or, at the very least, my life would improve if I turned my computer off and baked chocolate chip cookies.

Once I moved past my vexation about not writing with the ease I sporadically enjoy, however, I thought how necessary it is for me and others to write clumsy words, phrases, and, heaven help us, entire paragraphs. This is important partly because, whether I like it or not, I’m always starting over. In other words, I inevitably confront a blank page—or, since I generally use a computer, a blank screen—with whatever images and ideas I have floating around my mind. My mind may even contains grandiose ideas which often look pitiful once transferred to the page.

Is there a yarn shop you'd enjoy exploring on an Artist Date?
Is there a yarn shop you'd enjoy exploring on an Artist Date? | Source

I’m reminded of going hiking for the first time in weeks or longer. The first few steps feel awkward and unnatural; by the time I’m half a mile up the trail, thankfully, it feels as if I’ve never stopped hiking. With writing, unfortunately, it isn’t always this straightforward. At the very least, the clumsy moments in writing may not vanish as quickly as my body’s muscle memory awakens once I resume hiking.

I’ve often abandoned my writing efforts when the words weren’t coming easily. It’s easy to do, and often necessary. Whether you use time away to sip a cup of tea, reread a favorite novel, or enjoy a late lunch with a close friend, taking a break from your writing may be beneficial. Julia Cameron recommends going on an “Artist Date” once a week in order to revitalize your creativity. This is an outing you do alone for at least an hour. Whether you visit a yarn shop, an airplane museum, or watch the customers at a beauty parlor is up to you. This is your chance to observe, make connections, and remember what interests you. Since writing typically comes more easily when you write about subjects of great interest, such outings are priceless. Even a quick walk around wherever I’m living or visiting—whether I stay inside or venture out—can renew my creativity. It especially helps if I ask questions about what I see; these questions may range from “Why does this black Chevy Tahoe have out-of-state plates?” to “Why does my first cousin own all of the Harry Potter novels?”

Despite the importance of spending time away from your writing, I’m also a firm believer of staying put and writing until the words come more easily. This is difficult to do; I wish I could offer a fail-proof approach. I cannot, in other words, guarantee, in two hours you will begin to write more freely and even enjoy the process. I’ve experienced—and, depending on your perspective, endured—entire days when the words don’t fit together as well as I would like (and as well as they have previously). This is part of living the writing life, and I’ve tried to accept the ups and downs of this craft with a sense of humor. I also remember that other writers are experiencing comparable struggles. It’s been reassuring to hear about famous authors—such as Barbara Kingsolver and Anne Lamott—who admit to having “clunky” and terrible first drafts.


Julia Cameron, in The Artist’s Way, encourages writers to write no matter their mood because this is one way to safeguard against the belief you should only write when you “feel” like it. I’m inclined to agree; I’d even argue that writing may improve your mood. A few weeks ago, I was in a tizzy about an interpersonal conflict. Curiously, after I forced myself to write for several hours, my head cleared and I was more optimistic. The issue hadn’t resolved itself, yet writing reminded me of the things I am able to change and influence if I only make an effort.

Last year I read an article by Kim Addonizio called “First Thought, Worst Thought.” She writes, “Some people get stuck in early drafts and find it hard to accept that they need to do more. Fear is often a factor here. If you produce a lousy draft, you may conclude that you are a lousy writer. Not so. Dare to feel like a beginner—unsure and clumsy at first, but having a good time and doing your best to improve.” Since I have often felt like a beginner when I return to the page after much time away, I’m encouraged by her advice. Moreover, there are days when, after having written for several consecutive hours, I hit a wall and cannot produce a fluid sentence despite my best efforts. At such moments it’s easy to wonder if I’d be better offer pursuing a graduate degree or working as a nanny overseas.

How do you typically respond when the words aren't coming easily?

See results

I’m most satisfied being a writer on those days when I’m able and willing to compose many clumsy sentences until matters improve. Even if my writing don’t improve greatly and I’m not pleased with what I’ve written, I rest assured I made the effort to continue despite considerable resistance. As I learned while thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail, there are days when you need to keep moving forward even if your mind, body, and spirit protest mightily. As far as I’m concerned, let them protest. Let them make as much noise and commotion as they can. I’ll be writing or having an Artist’s date or, at the very least, collecting quotes while in search of the luminous language which may inspire me to write more poetically and precisely. For better or worse, the quest to form words—however adeptly or otherwise—must continue.



    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Julie K Henderson profile imageAUTHOR

      Julie K Henderson 

      3 years ago

      Thank you. I agree with you: better to have a novel which needs rewriting compared to a much shorter piece you composed because you allowed yourself too many opportunities to step away from the piece.

    • FatBoyThin profile image

      Colin Garrow 

      3 years ago from Kinneff, Scotland

      Good stuff, Julie, and yeah - sometimes you just have to tough it out and blunder through it. After all, if you've got a 90,000-word novel that needs a bit of re-writing, that's a lot better than a 500-word piece that needs another 85,500 words because you kept going for a walk instead of writing!

    • Julie K Henderson profile imageAUTHOR

      Julie K Henderson 

      3 years ago

      AussieAdventure: Thank you for commenting. I'm glad you found my article helpful. I, too, occasionally have difficulty finishing what I write. Good luck with your future writings.

    • AussieAdventure profile image


      3 years ago from Geelong VIC Australia

      Great article Julie, I am not sure if I have writers block or if I suffer from procrastination. I write a lot but never seem to finish any of my work. I try to write online, blogs and web pages. Sometimes I am successful in completing work, and at other times I am unable to complete anything. Your article is well written and very helpful.

    • Julie K Henderson profile imageAUTHOR

      Julie K Henderson 

      3 years ago

      Thank you for commenting. I'm glad you found the article helpful.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      3 years ago from USA

      It's important to stick with the process and keep going. Good advice.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)