October 26, 2017

Winter White Writing - Marnie Pohlmann

The snow is falling outside my window while I am cozy inside. I feel like I should curl up with a London Fog in my favourite teacup and a new novel in my hands. But I know what must be done first.

Glaring white.
Not a blotch mars the immaculate sheet of white.

Sometimes that unmarked canvas is exciting, inviting me to play, but other times, like today, it just feels like work. An overwhelming task. I am stressed I will not find the motivation to complete this piece - my part of the job.

I close my eyes and open them again. Still white.
I switch my gaze to the other page, the one that holds the prompt, then back again to the blank screen.
Still white.

I spend a few minutes studying the other pieces of this month's task. Usually, as I think about what to write each month for my post on the Writers' Online blog for Inscribe, I make notes of various ideas for the theme. As I read the other posts published before mine I am inspired with something to add to the discussion or reminded of what the topic means to me, and I add these ideas to my collection of thoughts.

Reading this month’s posts, I have certainly been inspired to look for more of the resources others find valuable. I appreciate everyone sharing their favourites. Although I have been learning to write for the better part of a half-century, I am just beginning to learn how to write and what to do with that writing.

Tonight, as I open my October file in Scrivener to begin finalizing my ideas for this month's blog, I shiver. Not from the weather outside, but from my file. It is... empty! GASP! I have not one flake of inspiration collected from which to begin.

I start to throw black words onto the white. Then I backspace. I begin again. And backspace. The white recovers my attempts faster than the snow outside is covering the driveway.

I sit back and glance out the window. The still-falling chalky moisture shows winter is wanting to take hold.

I take a deep breath and consider... what resources help me to write?

I begin again. No deleting this time!

I am presently scribbling in Scrivener, one of the writing resources I am learning to use. My favourite feature is that I can open Scrivener without opening anything else on my computer, so am not tempted to answer email or check Facebook. (Okay, yes, I still do, but the option is there to not give in, and there are times I do focus only on writing.)

Aside from Scrivener, I am grateful for my Lenovo 14" laptop on which Scrivener runs. Small and light, it is comfortable to use at my desk or carry to a lounge chair or to the Inscribe Fall Conference.

I pause, and begin, again...

Writing is the only way I know to get better as a writer. Still, after all these years, I allow interruptions to interfere with playing in my favourite tools. Like picking up that shovel to clear the sidewalk, I find sitting down to write the most difficult step of writing. (Though honestly, my husband reminds me, I don’t pick up a real shovel as often as I pick up my computer.)

What sits me down at the computer to write?

A deadline.
That’s it!

A deadline is usually what pushes me to the keyboard.

Deadlines mean I have committed to writing by a particular date. That is a tool that works for me. Whether the deadline is for this blog, a contest, my church, or my own projects, whether that deadline is set by others or myself, the pledge to meet a date or time encourages me to write.
Does it make me a better writer? I think so because it forces me to write whether it feels like work or play. As a Christian writer, I am encouraged to let my yes be yes, to complete my commitments, and meeting deadlines is one way to do so.

There is no stopping the advance of winter. It will come. Outside my window, the snow has now become slushy. Winter has not quite taken hold.
And writers' block has not taken hold, either.

Tonight, the night before my post is due, I no longer see only white.

* photos CCO license, Pixabay.com

Marnie may need to pick up a shovel this winter, but she'd rather be working with words. 


  1. There is no stopping the advance of winter but I do hope it doesn't reach Ontario anytime too soon, Marnie. I am unfamiliar with your writing friend, Scrivener. It sounds like it has some perks as far as the ability to keep you focused on the task at hand. I too can become easily distracted by other things while in the middle of writing. Thanks for sharing. Happy shoveling...

    1. Check my blog post on October 15 for more about Scrivener.

    2. I'm sure I don't even know the basics of Scrivener, but I do enjoy using it. Must be my penchant for organizing.

  2. Only you could 'nothingness' (all that white!) into something engaging and beautiful! You have such a unique and inspired way with words. I agree that just WRITING in itself is a resource. It's why I love to journal, I think. Of course, I love Scrivener, as i already said in my post this month, and finally deadlines work wonders for me, too. See? You have wonderful resource advice after all!

    1. I am excited to check out all the resources shared this month. I have Joseph Michael's basic Scrivener course and have only just begun to discover the possibilities.

  3. Word after word after beautiful word. Marnie, I was in your head, looking from the unblemished snow outside to the white page in front of you. So glad you choose to share with us. You have blessed my day. Thank you!

    1. Thank you, Joy. I knew others were with me in this experience!

  4. I'm glad writers block didn't last for you. Unfortunately for me this month I did. I felt completely inept at suggesting resources for other writers. You came up with some good ones!! I too need deadlines but I sure don't want winter although I can sense it is coming. Hopefully I get back on course with next months topic. And I'm very interested in Scrivener. Did you take an online course to learn how to use it?

    1. Gloria, somehow I was able to get Joseph Michael's online Scrivener information for free a few years ago. I haven't been able to look at it much yet. I have just used Scrivener to organize and do basic word processing. It keeps my projects in front of me, so I do make slow headway on them.

  5. Amen to deadlines ... and I agree with your comment about writing being the only way to improve writing. My interest was renewed in Scrivener-thank you Tracey for further details. I had asked about it then, but failed to follow up-perhaps I'm waiting for the snow to fall here as well-and it did today! Does this mean no further excuses? Or that Christmas is coming and that life will be busy?

    1. I always find the change of season to be extra busy. I'm never prepared for the them, so I need deadlines, lists, and calendars to keep me going. And Christmas is only two months away!

  6. Your "white" imagery drew me in, Marnie--from the shovelling that will be needed for removing the whiteness of snow to the writing that is necessary for removing the whiteness of the blank page. And I never thought of deadlines as a resource nor a blessing, but you are so right. Thanks for that fresh perspective.

    1. Sharon, we can only share what we know, no matter how little, but it's still our responsibility to share. It's the same for writing as for the Gospel, right?


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