My platform had gone silent. I had not written anything for Tech in the Trenches, or anything else in two weeks. Work took over my life and exhaustion filled my evenings instead of the written word. I had forgotten one of the key tenets to writing.
Place butt in seat.
Place fingers on keyboard.
Make the Clackity Noise
Go ahead and read Merlin Mann’s piece. Seriously, I’ll wait…
If you’ve chosen to plow on ahead or already read his words, I’ll give you this,
Your keyboard will have different things in it than mine does, of course. But, itâ€™s impossible to know whatâ€™s in there until youâ€™ve made the clackity noise for a few minutes. You think you know whatâ€™s in there. But you donâ€™t. Itâ€™s not your brain that makes the clackity noise, itâ€™s your fingers.
Iâ€™ve learned that my job is to just sit down and start making the clackity noise. If I make the clackity noise long enough every day, the â€œwritingâ€ seems to take care of itself. On the other hand, if thereâ€™s no clackity noise, no writing. No little stories. The stories may be in there, alongside God knows what else, but thereâ€™s no way to know. You must make the noise.
Make the clackity noise. Type on that keyboard, or if it’s more your style pick up your favorite pen, pencil or chisel and scrawl your words into your treasured notebook, writing pad or stone tablet. Make the words leave your brain and capture them to share.
I was not doing this. Sure, I was reading though not as much as normal as my Kindle’s WhisperSync has grown silent and my Instapaper queue grows ever larger. I was listening to wonderful tales courtesy of Audible. I was living inside another world.
I was not adding anything to my world. I was not moving anything lurking inside my head to the glorious sunlight outside the dusty, cobwebbed corners. I was not making the clackity noise. I was not racing my fingers across the keys in a vain attempt to keep up with the stories in my mind.
I was not telling stories.
I was not sharing with you.
I was not sharing anything with anyone.
I knew where I had to go and like a junkie aching for the next fix, I returned to 750 Words. I returned to that wonderful place with its welcoming black screen and 80’s green text with nothing more than the time and a word count and the assurance of 750 Words â€“ Private, unfiltered, spontaneous, daily at the page’s end.
I came back and let the words flow. I wrote and I wrote and I wrote and I made the clackity noise again. I relieved the pressure valve on the story reservoir which nearly overflowed its banks. Now that it has crested, the stories are flowing again.
I wrote about my love for the Google Chromebook.
I wrote about my love for books and reading.
I write now, about my love for writing.
I write now. For the sake of writing. For the sake of storytelling.
I write inside my protected camp of 750 Words. I write in this familiar setting with nothing but the words to comfort me. I write in the non-judging, acceptance of darkness. I let the words flow freely from me again and I let them stain the page with their neon green shine.
I am telling you a story. A story about my way back from silence. I am sharing the story of my inability to remember the cardinal rule of writing.