The words don’t flow easily all the time. Sometimes, it takes you more than a cup of coffee, and sometimes, you have to add a couple of glasses of wine. I often have days like these. I judged the quality of my writing with a relatively simple metric: how warm was my coffee when I was done? If it was still warm after I had said what I wanted to say, I knew it would not be a good piece. If life has taught me anything, it’s that we did not use the correct words in these moments—when we are brimming, when we need only an outlet. But I recognised the necessity of those pieces—they unclogged the pipes for the good stuff to flow out.
If the coffee was lukewarm—warm enough to feel like coffee but cold enough for me to take that last, leftover swig to end it all—it was a good day of writing. I had written enough, waited enough; I was patient and gentle with the words. I had paused to think. It was always important to pause to think when we wanted to say something. If we did not stop to catch our breath and rein our words in, we often risked saying things we did not want to say or implying things we did not want to imply, which was worse.
On some days, however, the coffee was hot because I had to get up and brew myself another cup. I ran out of it because either I had so much to say, I did not know where to start, or I did not know what to say. As a result, I went about writing and scratching it off and writing and scratching it again. I often saved some good sentences here and there from these blocks, for the lack of a better word. A writer who believed in blocks was going about it incorrectly. There is no such thing as a block, only slower motion.
The trick was to keep sitting at that desk, to only get up to make more coffee, to keep scratching sentences off, to keep jotting the little gold that trickles down, and eventually, you found the words. They may not be your best, but they will have been written down. It was the only way to go about it—to write them down. A writer was no judge of the quality of their writing, but, to me, these were the crucial days. They reminded me of the times I thought I could not go on, and then, I kept going anyway.