Listen. The place where words come from is not so far away as it might seem. Know your question, and listen; the answer will come.
Most writing occurs in the imagination before I pick up my pencil or sit in front of the computer. I have a sense of the story I want to tell, and how it’s to be told. I did this in college, writing under pressure; I’d think and think about the assignment, and then I’d see exactly what it was I wanted and needed to say. Composing, after so much contemplation, was the simpler task; I was more or less transcribing something that had taken clear shape in my mind.
Now that I’m writing “professionally,” I thought I ought to change my tactic – sit and pound out so many words per day, for so many pages or hours. It was a fruitless effort, though. So I did my writing exercises, the “brain drain” of all the cluttery thoughts that have been gumming up the pipes and distracting me from the project that means so much to me. And one question in particular was formed in my mind.
Now I’ve seen my way clear on it. I know the answer to my question – and the answer to some other less demanding questions as well. When I return to active writing, tomorrow morning, I’ll have something worthwhile and reasonably well-formed to say. It’s already there, in my heart.