October 8, 2021

When You Have Nothing to Write About, Remember This One Thing

Everything is material.

Cole Schafer said that (quoting Nora Ephron) in a podcast interview with Marie Forleo, recounting a story of how his dog got sick right before an important meeting. He shared how he embraced that experience, believing that every event in our lives can spark ideas worthy to be written about.

Since then, I’ve always kept the sentence in my pocket.

It pops up every time something small and silly happens. It comes back to me when something huge and heartwarming or heart-wrenching happens. And it’s there too, even for the mind-numbing moments.

I take note of every anecdote because as Jorge Luis Borges pens,

“A writer — and, I believe, generally all persons — must think that whatever happens to him or her is a resource. All that happens to us, including our humiliations, our misfortunes, our embarrassments, all is given to us as raw material, as clay, so that we may shape our art.”

When you feel like you have nothing to write about, breathe in and out. Close your eyes. And reminisce.

The day you got your first paycheck. The last time you were on a road trip with your ex. That awkward moment back in college when you called your professor “Lord” during a presentation on social justice because you were so nervous. That beautiful sunset you witnessed because you took a different route on your way home.

Sift through the stories in your head, both the true and imagined.

Is there something worth retelling?

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