Anything at all 8



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Having been writing for many years, I am very familiar with writers’ block. I always imagine it as my muse abandoning me.

Why she does this periodically I don’t know, but there are times when I have no ideas, no inspiration, nothing to write about. I have read many books on writing and the most memorable piece of advice I have read is, “Write every day.”

A story is told of a famous author who was invited to give a lecture at a university. His subject was to be “Writing”. Eager students filled the lecture hall and the famous man walked onto the stage. He looked around at the respectful faces before him then said one word, “Write.” He turned and walked off. Whether or not it is true it is the best advice you could ever receive.
If you are suffering from the dreaded writers’ block, just ignore it. Sit down and write. It doesn’t matter what you write; just write anything at all. At first it might sound like nonsense, but you are writing. It often happens that a phrase or a sentence will develop a life of its own and take flight – what follows could be deathless prose.
It is advised that you don’t stop to look out the window or think about weeding the garden or going to the letterbox. Forget about coffee for the time being. The idea is to just keep writing anything at all.

We are told that Sir Winston Churchill disciplined himself to write 500 words a day. No matter how busy his day had been, he followed that rule, 500 words a day. I don’t think he was short of inspiration at that time as he was writing his monumental “History of the English Speaking Peoples”. Yes, he had a subject to write about but it would never have been finished if he hadn’t disciplined himself to write every day.

This applies to life. Some friends had a picture hanging on their kitchen wall. It showed an old English village scene and there were words written underneath. The words were in some northern dialect, probably from the district illustrated.

The words were:

Do summat
Do gude if you can
But do summat.

I take this to mean, “Don’t sit around feeling miserable; do something, anything at all.”

If you have a big job ahead of you, such as a pile of dishes to wash, “Do summat”. Just get started and before you know it, the job is done. When I was growing up I had three young brothers. Boys can be extremely untidy and sometimes in a mood of unaccustomed virtue I decided to clean up their bedroom. On opening the door I had almost to wade through the comics, clothes, shoes, school books and socks on the floor.

I discovered that instead of walking out and closing the door I could do something – anything at all. If I picked up three comic books and put them in the wardrobe I had at least started. Then I felt encouraged to pick up a few garments and take them to the laundry. This led to some more putting away.

I don’t think I ever got the whole room finished, but at least I had done something.

I am the living proof of what I have been writing. When I sat down at the computer to write on the topic, “Anything at all,” I had nothing to write about so I just started. Now six hundred words later I have a piece of writing.


Do you get writers’ block from time to time? Or do you put pen to paper and it just comes out? If you would like to write for Starts at 60, we’d love to have you! Email anything you like through to [email protected]

Winsome Smith

I am well and truly over sixty. My great passions are reading and writing and I have written twelve books. I have children, grandchildren and great grandchildren and two of my books are embarrassing stories about the doings of my grandchildren. Embarrassing to them, but humorous to me. I enjoy the Starts at Sixty website and believe that over sixties have much to say…

  1. It happens to all of us at some time, Winsome. I love the quote from Philip Sidney’s ‘Astrophel and Stella:
    Biting my truant pen, beating myself for spite,
    ‘Fool,’ said my muse to me; ‘look in thy heart, and write.”
    Please do keep writing… anything at all!

  2. Good ideas here – goes with painting as well I should think. This year I intend to ‘paint something’ and get back on the track I was on several years ago.

  3. I don’t profess to be a writer, but in younger days when away from close family (earlier my mother, later my daughter) I wrote a letter almost every day. The less often you write the more difficult it becomes to think of something to write about.
    I also think handwriting requires more brain power, ‘specially if you are a true touch typist.

  4. I have never put pen to paper,so to speak,and I do have so much I would like to tell about the family tree,which I had asked Mum to do,and sadly it seems it has been left to me. I have found it overwhelming and don’t know where to start, but just those little words, “do summat” sound so like what mum would have said,I feel encouraged now to put pen to paper and do just that! Thank you 🙂

    1 REPLY
    • Do make a start, Catharine, and please share when you do. In my mid-70s, I am embarking on the 192 years of my family history since their ship berthed in Hobart Town. (I have a piece coming up shortly about some early family misadventure, “Avoid The Whirlpool.”
      If that helps you with yours, I will be pleased. 🙂

  5. Hi Winsome,
    Congratulations on the 12 books written. I have several books published also. I write Australian historical romance.
    You are so right, put something down on paper, it doesn’t matter what. “You can’t edit a blank sheet of paper,” was the best piece of writing advice I ever received.

  6. I love reading and writing. Am doing my memoirs at the moment for my daughter and grand daughter. I love doing little odes too and used to write short stories for my grandson in place of reading the usual story books to him. One of the stories he knew word for word and, if I got it wrong, he would take me to task about it.

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