Anything But

It has been four days since I first saw the prompt for writing about not writing. On day one I felt the warming energy flow through my body as it does when sparked by inspiration, I could envisage the creatively original work I knew I could produce, the positive feedback trickling in from those who knew me and perhaps those who didn’t beyond my username, and the pride I would feel knowing “I wrote that.” And so I picked up my notebook, I picked up the fountain pen that makes me feel most like a validated writer, tucked them out of sight and got back to doing anything else besides writing. Go for a walk? Not writing. Bake Mum’s favourite cinnamon streusel cake? Not writing. Clean out the cupboard that hasn’t needed cleaning? Not writing. Take note of all the prompts, competitions, and calls for papers open to submissions? Writing, but not writing.

On day two I woke up with the sun for a morning run by the ocean, a sure-fire way to start a productive day to feel smug about. A day full of coffee, nutritious and carefully considered meals, and writing so many words that I could look back in the evening (when I’m enjoying the reward of relaxation following a hard day’s work) and say, “I wrote that.” And so I ran, I drank my coffee, ate my avocado toast, and settled in for a long day of alternating between staring at the book-covered walls and the wall in my hand that projects video after video of people doing things, and tweet after tweet of people not.

Day three. Coffee, ballet class at the kitchen-counter barre, porridge. Second round of laundry is in, bed is made, yesterday’s bowls and mugs in the sink, leaving a room and mind that are nothing if not prepared for getting words on the page with zero distractions. Apart from the distracting thoughts that you don’t know when your bank balance will next go up rather than down, that you can’t see family because they live on the other side of an ocean, that there are politicians controlling the puppet strings not knowing who the servant is at the bottom, that people are being killed every day for who they are. Zero distractions, not writing.


Amy Wells is a sporadic writer who experiments with the blending of genres, and enjoys combining poetic techniques with prose writing. She will begin an MSt in English Literature at the University of Oxford in Autumn 2021. She Tweets at @amynicolewells.