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Filling the Well

I am at Anodyne Coffee shop on 43rd and Nicollet at 8:17 pm on a Tuesday night.  I have nothing much to say, nothing much to give.

My well hath run dry.  Again.

I don’t know why it bothers me so much, this state of stagnation.  After all, it happens to me on a regular basis, like the seasons, or like my period.  So you’d think by now I’d be used to it.  Instead, it makes me feel listless, like I’m standing in the darkness looking through a window, waiting for the headlights of my long-lost love to roll up the driveway and return to me.

The wind of inspiration that moves my fingers across this keyboard has quieted to an unnerving stillness.  Profound or philosophical thoughts have been absent from my mind, leaving space for pettiness and irritation to take root and grow.  Like today for instance, when I sat next to that guy with a blue tooth stuck in his ear who wouldn’t share the little end table between our two stuffed chairs in the corner of Starbucks.  Every time he drank from his coffee mug, he seemed to place it closer and closer to me.  You know what I did?  I casually drank my cup of tea and placed it closer and closer toward him.  So if you would have seen the two of us sitting there, you would have thought he was the one drinking the tea and I was the one drinking the mug of coffee.

See?  When my well runs dry, I am more susceptible to this kind of tit-for-tat crap with a complete stranger that normally I wouldn’t have the time nor care to notice.

I am weakened from my own drought, my creativity parched.

Writing is sort of a bi-polar existence–sometimes the thoughts and words flow effortlessly, like a joyful, overflowing fountain.  Other times, I feel like I have drained all creative thoughts, all eloquence and insight from my being–leaving this shell of a 37 year-old woman who is allowing herself to become annoyed at some (self-important) guy who she’ll probably (hopefully) never encounter again.

See?  I can’t even help myself.

But here I am.  Showing up to this coffee shop, showing up to the blank page, showing up to myself.  So I’m going to give myself some credit.  Dammit.  When I stop to notice my thoughts and reflect, I believe I’m making the first move to get out of my rut.  And when I actually apply effort and action to turn myself around and refill my well, I know it’s an act of self-love.

“To write honestly and with all of our powers is the least we can do, and the most.” -Eudora Welty

Through the many, many, many times I have felt this way, following a period of inwardly thrashing with self-doubt, I have learned to recall the things that bring me inspiration so that I can begin again to refill my well.  One of those things is to simply sit my ass down and write.  It doesn’t matter what.  It’s just sitting long enough to listen to myself and what it is I need.

Creative droughts can be useful.  They force me to sit down and listen.  To life.  To myself.  They force me to assess how I am spending my time and compare that to how I want to spend my time.

“Every time you don’t follow your inner guidance, you feel a loss of energy, loss of power, a sense of spiritual deadness.”-Shakti Gawain

I came to this coffee shop because this is place where I have experienced hours and hours of writing bliss.  I came here to see if I could find it, find myself again.

I’m so glad I did.  Here I sit at this table, crumbs from my sprinkled doughnut beneath my long-since drained coffee mug, now on the other side of this essay.  I can’t believe I actually made it to 600 words.  When I began, I didn’t think I had it in me.  But I did it. I can almost hear the sound of inspiration falling into and filling my well…

5-Minute Writing Exercise: Write a list of all of the things that bring you inspiration, that revive you and fill your being with vitality.  Do you make room in your days and weeks for these things?  If not, how are you spending your time?

We all have within us the power to refill our own wells.   In fact, we are the only ones with that power.  How do you fill your well?

Janna Brayman Krawczyk is a writer and teacher living in Minneapolis.

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