In a writing slump? Then, swing for the fences


I haven’t wanted to write a single word all day long. And to be sure I wouldn’t have to I’ve invented a flurry of must-do’s that keep me occupied. I scrub toilets. I schedule dentist appointments.

(Flickr: Tulane Public Relations)

(Flickr: Tulane Public Relations)

But, I must write and force myself to sit in solitude, breathing in life, exhaling peace and straining for inspiration to stir my soul. I labor for the right word, the first word, any word.

But, there is nothing.

Read: Play ball! Self-published writer scores with baseball rules book

So, I bring a notebook to my son’s night game and resolve to write between innings. Yet, here I sit. Watching the game, mulling over players and their plays, catches not made, balls thrown too high, bats swung too low, too late. Swing and a miss.

I observe a father—fingers laced through the chain link backstop, willing his son to hit, wincing with every foul tip and slice at the air. Suddenly, the ball jumps off his kid’s bat—he was all over that pitch. Mom stands amazed, hands steepled over the bridge of her nose bracing against joyful tears. Dad is incredulous, then pumps his fist and cheers excitedly. The two are embracing before their son even rounds second base. Dad furiously punches numbers on his cell phone and reports proudly, “First hit in three seasons and it’s a double!”

I want to revel in this family’s story of perseverance. But, I can’t because my attention is now drawn to the mound, where the manager is patting the pitcher on the back with one hand and reaching for the ball with the other. Stick a fork in him—he’s done.

The boy, my boy, gives it over reluctantly and walks off the field, head down and into the dugout where more back slaps and knuckle raps await him. Does he need me? If he does, I resolve not to look his way, nor do I strive for his attention. I’ve learned my role in this theater and my place is to let him become a man.

My heart melts.

I glance at my empty page and can only manage a swirl or two, when I realize that the inning has turned now. The bases are juiced and it is my son’s turn to bat. He is on-deck, swinging and timing pitches, then steps up to the plate, glaring tough and brave. He digs in, taps his bat in the dirt, lifts it, gives it a flourish, a taunting twirl and then waits, poised and ready. Ready for his pitch.

Suddenly I feel refreshed, alive—inspired! I can’t quite account for it, but I think it has something to do with the night lights humming, the evening mist creeping, boys bouncing, baseball-ready, the trees breezing and clouds of the infield floating to me and coating me with a fine spray of earth.

Writing can sometimes be a waiting game, requiring patience and persistence. Because there’s no telling how many at-bats you’ll have before you finally hit one out of the park. The trick is to keep at it. And, when the right words do come, rapid-fire and blazing, as they finally did for me just now, you’ve got to swing for the fences, folks. Swing for the fences.

You can kiss this one goodbye—it’s outta here.

Kerri S. Mabee is editor at Learn more about her at

Kerri S. Mabee

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