Skip to main content

Priming the Pump...

Why is it that when I’m away from writing for more than a day or two, I forget everything I’ve learned about the craft and about myself and the process of writing?

The last few days I’ve been "working" on my story. Or I've been trying to. I’d promised myself not to edit, therefore, I was not allowing myself to read over what I’d written previously on this new W I P. But, by not allowing myself access to any part of the story, I could not make the words come. Not words that made any sense to my story, anyway.

I’d made the rule that I couldn't read anything I'd already written because I'd want to edit and make it better. SO, I had to write something brand new. But I'd started the story days, no, weeks ago.

I was trying to make myself jump off the writing cliff without the safety net of the words I’d already penned, the foundation of my story. Without those sentences I had nothing to grip onto. I was holding onto nothing, giving it nothing, and I was getting nothing.

I completely forgot I had to prime the pump.

I remember once going out to the old well in the yard of the old home place where my husband grew up.

I’d pump and pump trying to get water, but nothing came out. Then my mother in law came with a quart of water and poured it into the pump and before long, as I pumped, the water gushed forth - magic, to my city eyes.

Today, I primed the pump with the words from the beginning of my story, and before long my pen couldn't keep up with the words pouring forth, almost more than I could catch with my fingers.

So, don't forget to prime the pump, the word pump. And remember we can't get anything out if we don't put something in. Just a word or two. That's all that's necessary. To remind us of who we are and where we're going.

Bon Voyage!


  1. That's how I avoid writer's block - I re-read what I've written and it spurs me forward.

  2. "we can't get anything out if we don't put something in." So true. Glad you are primed and pumping.

  3. Good analogy, Barb. As a kid, I remember priming those old pumps. Not until I grew older did I understand how that worked.

  4. Oh I loved this! It is such an important thing to do! Thank you for the reminder!

  5. I felt stupid writing this post. How can a writer forget something so fundamental? I'm happy to have the post, now I can read it when I'm stuck, which should be about this time next week if my timing is right. On to the story at hand.
    Thanks for reading and commenting.


  6. Another really great analogy. I remember priming pumps. Best of luck with getting that flow of words going.

  7. Hi Barbara, glad your words started to flow. I'm always rereading what I've written. Good post.

  8. I always reread and reread and I still can't seem to catch all the grammar errors...but i do tend to get more inspiration when I reread and continue writing before I forget.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog


Ode to Old
When I am old- Really really old- And cannot see -
Red balls of rouge- Riding- High on my cheeks,
Black lines- Arching- Over my eyes, 
Gravy stains covering- Yellow flowers- On my good blue dress.
When I am old- And cannot see - Will you please do-  My grooming for me?

by: Barbara A. Whittington

My Favorite Essay by Gladys Taber


From an essay by Gladys Taber
Family Circle  - September 1982

    I sat in the sun the other day while the dogs dug up the lawn and thought about work. I wasn’t working. I was just thinking about it. I have found that when I cannot possibly accomplish everything I am supposed to and feel an unbearable pressure---as all homemakers must---if I just stop, life goes better.
    I get a good book, make some spiced tea and sit down on my own corner of the sofa or in my favorite lawn chair. I let life settle in around me, and that is the only way I can express it. After 20 minutes or half an hour, I go back to the mechanics of living.  AND at days end I am just as far along as if I had not stopped to think.

Another of her thoughts: time for thinking is a gift one can give only to one’s self.

Hope you enjoy reading this as much as I have over the years. When I've had it with my life some days -  I have only to sit down with a glass of sweet tea and think of this essay an…

Romance paperback now available - wrapping up those small holiday gifts....

NEW romance paperback makes a sweet gift for the reader in your life.

The publication of my paperback Dear Ann: Love Letters from Nam, which is a short story, is finally HERE. So happy. Just click the link below to go to Amazon and check it out. The story is told in letters between a young soldier in war-torn Vietnam and his bride back home in West Virginia. Priced at $5.99. I put a lot of hard work and considerable research into this story. It is a part of a much larger work - which may take the rest of my lifetime to finish or I may never. Thus, here's a portion of the story I still love! The letters make a good stand-alone story. I hope you'll enjoy reading it. If at all possible, please leave a review on Amazon. This paperback exists because of the many requests I had to turn this story into a tangible book. Dear Anne is filled with romance, and the emotion and angst that comes with war-time romance. Leaving a loved one behind to go fight in a war in a far away strange land…