There’s nothing worse than fumbling around trying to be a writer when you have nothing to write about. In the last three and a half years, I have had nothing to write about on many occasions. This means that you have read more than your fair share of stories that were about nothing.

This also means that you are remarkable. Not once have I ever received a complaint about the dribble I sometimes put out there under the pretense of being a writer. You bear with me. You push through. You remain polite. Even in the face of nothing you are something.

The current episode of writer’s block began last week. I don’t know if you’ve ever had your brain lock up on you before or not, but it’s not the most endearing experience in life. I had the one event at Bethesda Baptist Church that gave me something to write about, but other than that, I had nothing.

I didn’t meet anyone new. Max didn’t do anything worthy of sharing. My grandkids were not funny, which is always a good story. I had no emotional highs or lows; also, good fodder for writing. The world did not end. There were no local news events and no major changes in my life.

I didn’t travel anywhere exciting. I didn’t try out any new restaurants. I had the same old Jr. Pork Plate with two sides at the Whistling Pig. It has been like my whole life is on autopilot. Nothing out of the ordinary has happened in days.

That’s not entirely true. The Dollar Store remodeled since last time I was in there. I walked in the door on Saturday and thought I had been transported to some other store in some other town. An entire wall of coolers stood along the right wall where the cash register used to be. The dog food aisle had been moved. The toothpaste was on the opposite side of the store from where it has always been.

So, if the redo at the Dollar Store is all you got when you’re trying to be a productive writer, you’ve got nothing.

I did get a warranty renewal notice in the mail the other day. I’m reaching here, I know. I bought a new Whirlpool dishwasher last August. I’ve been getting renewal notices in the mail since last October telling me that my warranty will run out soon. I can bundle my savings on the 5-year plan if I act now. But I’m not an extended warranty kind of guy.

There’s nothing for you.

How about the pollen? Every spring we get about 50 bazillion metric tons of yellow powder dumped on us. Being a tree guy, I have had to learn to be accepting of this annual event. Without the pollen, my business doesn’t survive. You can thank the pines an oaks for most of this putrid yellow gold.

My home state of Georgia just may be the worst place on earth to live during pollen season, and I have the data to back me up. Maine may be named The Pine Tree State, but Georgia has 22 million acres of privately owned timberland, more than any other state in the union. At over 500 pines per acre, that’s more pollen producing pods than you can shake a stick at. That dark cloud blocking out the sun is just pollen.

I have given up on washing my truck until May. Once the pollen season is over, I’ll have to pressure wash nearly everything I own. Porch furniture. Porch walls and floors. Window screens. Lamp shades. Ceiling fan blades. Flowerpots. The dashboard in my truck. Sinus cavities.

I am a Zyrtec junkie this time of year.

But all of this talk about pollen is nothing.

The thing about writer’s block is that it makes you feel like giving up. You start thinking that other writers make it look so easy. You start wondering if you’ll ever have anything to say worth reading.

Last week, when I shared one of my stories at Bethesda, I read it to them. It was like story time with Mr. Rogers, only not as riviting and with a much older crowd. I knew I couldn’t tell the story with all the details. So, I read it. My memory is not that good because my brain is clogged with pollen, I guess.

But here’s the thing. A writer should never read his own stuff. I don’t know if painters or song writers have the same experience. I imagine the good ones don’t. But reading my own stories makes me wonder if I should even be a writer. It’s like listening to a recording of my own voice. My reaction is always horrific. Surely, I don’t sound like that.

The same thing happened going through my archives trying to pick out a story to read on that Tuesday evening. I didn’t like anything I wrote. I kept saying to myself, “No, that’s no good. Nope, too choppy. Ugh, can’t believe I wrote that one.”

This is what happens when I get brain cramps.

More nothing.

For fun, on Saturday, I sat at the kitchen table and worked on getting my taxes together. My CPA gives me a workbook to fill out. This is supposed to make the job more seamless and complete. The book asks me all the right questions, so I don’t forget about any of the important financial information they need in order to help the IRS suck more of my blood than they already have.

Has my marital status changed? No. Have I sold any real estate in the last year? No. Have I operated a business out of my home? No. Did I contribute to or lose money from any foreign investments this year? Yes. I put fuel in my truck. Do you have any children that should be listed as dependents on your return? Maybe.

So, here it is Monday evening. I missed getting a story out last week because of this stupid writing funk I’m in. Tragically, no one even noticed. It’s not like I have real deadlines to meet anyway. No one’s world is going to come crashing down if I don’t get a story out on time.

Still, what is a writer supposed to do with nothing?

The solution is to start writing about something; anything. See what happens. In the business, we call this the rough draft; otherwise known as a steaming pile of pooh.

You start by putting words together, largely in somewhat unconnected themes. You use poor grammar. You don’t worry about the rules of syntax and spelling. You’re just trying to get something on paper to see if anything sticks.

Then, you go back and read what you’ve written. By the third paragraph you start to feel nauseous. The little demon inside your head tells you to tear it up and start all over. But you can’t do that.

Next, you get up and take a long walk outside. You come back to read it again, after which you start to think that Zumba lessons might be less painful.

That’s just the way it is when you’ve got nothing.

6 thoughts on “Nothing

  1. PLEASE 🫤Please 😃Don’t give up. I love and chuckle with your writings.
    Often I send them to friends and family so they can enjoy your work.
    Sometimes we all need a vacation from ourselves and take a NICE long HIKE.
    Being new to living in the south, I’m NOT liking this pollen stuff but you made me chuckle about it today. 🥰


  2. Been there… done that. I am a pseudo writer also. Pastor for 45 yrs. I have written daily columns, blogs, articles every week for all those years. I have have written a library of published books. All of which are on one or two pages; books of one or two pages. You are doing a great job. Just be authentic and real. God takes care of the rest. 2 fish and 5 loaves feed thousands in Jesus hands. P.S. – this is one of your longest articles. Hard to stop once you begin. BobbyD Journey Community Christian Church – Cynthiana, Kentucky 41031


  3. I declare, Paul. You can make something out of nothing better than anyone I’ve ever met or known. You’re a wizard at looking at the blank page And making it come alive simply by
    thinking “ Here goes nothing!” I want to thank you for everything! Godspeed you and your sharing of your gift with all of us.


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