What do you do when you’ve forgotten how to write?

Image by the brilliant Stuart F Taylor

I didn’t publish a blog post yesterday, and that’s not because I have no blog posts or stories to tell. It’s because every draft I have looks like it could be terrible, and my brain refuses to kick out anything that seems even vaguely ‘OK.’ In a normal week, I write two new posts, record one new piece of audio and edit a piece of guest audio, write commissioned content for other sites (I’ve recently written up this incredible NSFW shower scene for FrolicMe, which was a genuine highlight of my January), and generally churn out word after word after word to keep everything ticking over. But at the moment I feel like I’ve forgotten how to write. And that’s a little bit scary.

Imagine if you woke up one morning having forgotten how to do your job. Maybe your job is very people-oriented, and you’ve forgotten everyone’s names or what their roles are. Perhaps you write code: imagine if one day the letters and symbols on the screen just looked like nonsense to you. Perhaps you work in a shop, and when you go in you realise you’ve forgotten how to run the tills and what these weird products on the shelves are. That’s kind of what I’m feeling right now, but about writing.

My job is very emotion-oriented. I feel something, then I write about it. Even when I’m writing rantier posts, they’re still mostly grounded in my own emotions: anger that someone’s said something bad, or frustration that we’re still battling societal sex shame or what have you. Then there are the sex stories: they have to be grounded in emotion because I cannot fuck without feeling things. Excitement, horn, glee, gratitude, whatever.

At the moment, I don’t know what I feel.

I’ve seen a lot of people talking about These Weird Times, and how they’re noticeably different from other stages of the pandemic. Many people I know are talking about how understandably miserable and frightened they are. I sometimes feel the same, though ‘miserable and frightened’ often bounces way too far in the other direction, and I go for ‘gleefully excited about life.’ I ping-pong wildly between joy and misery, so that even when I’m happy there’s something sitting in the back of my mind which says ‘are you though? Are you REALLY?’ When I’m miserable, likewise – my brain will simultaneously tell me I’m down and also tell me that there’s no rational reason to be, I should simply kickstart myself into feeling joy again and voila! Everything will be OK.

Certainty is one of the best writing tools, I find. When I’m confused and have no idea what’s going on, that’s when the fug descends and I can write nothing better than… well… something like this.

I write blog posts when I’m up, but when it comes time to edit them and put them live the ‘up’ will have dissipated only to be replaced by self-doubt. Is this post actually good, or useful? Is it more likely a huge pile of crap? Do I even believe or feel what I’m saying here? Or did the words just sound good when they tripped from my fingertips to the keyboard?

I don’t know.

I have absolutely no idea if any of the posts I have sitting in draft are good or not. But they’re all I’ve got. Some I liked because they sounded funny, some because they sounded useful or wise, and some because they just made a point I’d been struggling to articulate for a while.

Anyway. What do you do when you’ve forgotten how to write? The first thing you do is indulge in a little panic and misery, because it’s important to acknowledge your feelings even if from the outside they may look absurd and irrational. So I allow myself a little time to wallow in the worry that maybe I’ll never write again. Perhaps, after ten and a half years, I’ve reached the end of the line, and the ease with which I used to write has just upped and left. I scour a few job ads, and each one nurtures the panic further as I realise I’m no longer qualified or relevant for any of the stuff I used to do. I eat too much food and drink too much booze to try and take my mind off the fact that I’ve forgotten how to write.

I stare at my to-do list and curse my past self’s foolish optimism in planning all these words. So many words! All the time! Every day! She basically wrote a to-do list that told me, every day, to have a feeling/thought/opinion/fuck that was worthy of sharing with you. The arrogance! The fucking audacity!

So I do that for a while. And then a while longer. And then longer. And then, as with this weekend, I say ‘fuck it’ and take some time off. Spend a couple of days doing nothing but DIY and hanging out with friends – catching up over wine and pizza and stories until I feel a little bit less disconnected from the world.

I’ve still forgotten how to write, but at least now I know that I haven’t forgotten how to speak or socialise.

I remind myself that this isn’t the first time I’ve forgotten how to write – around this time last year I wrote a blog that’s almost exactly like this one, so I tell myself that maybe this is just a feature of ‘plague life in January’. The cold and the dark and the need to stay indoors to keep warm and not spread the virus… those things aren’t conducive to wisdom or funny stories or any of the emotions that I’m suddenly struggling to feel.

When you’ve forgotten how to write, sometimes the only way to remind yourself is to dip back into those drafts and force yourself to polish them off. Make yourself write concluding paragraphs and add links and a layer of SEO and a nice image and then hit ‘publish.’ But right now I can’t even do that, because I genuinely can’t tell if those drafts are ones which will work when they’re polished, or if they’ll sink like a stone. Maybe you don’t really know you’ve forgotten how to write until people stop reading.

Anyway. I hope you won’t stop reading. That’s the point of this blog post, really: to ask you to bear with me. Although I can’t actually take time off, per se (see addendum below), for the next couple of weeks I’m going to be phoning it in a little bit. Publishing drafts I’m not confident about, and focusing more behind the scenes on doing some of the absolute basics that might kickstart my brain into having better ideas. So what goes up over the next couple of weeks is going to be… patchy, I think? Some might be self-pitying or badly thought-through or not as funny as I’d like it to be. But when I’m doing DIY and I worry that this shelf isn’t straight or that paint looks patchy or that plaster is cracking, I console myself with the knowledge that it’s better than it was before: what I have done is better than nothing. So that’s the approach I’m going to adopt for the next couple of weeks of this, the longest January I have ever experienced. Embrace the idea that something is better than nothing. Publish a few somethings, and see if I can get back into the swing of things.

Let’s see how we get on.


Addendum: Why don’t you just stop blogging for a couple of weeks/take a holiday? 

I’ve been in this situation before, quite a few times. The ‘forgotten how to write’ thing is a regular feature of blogging life. I don’t talk about it nearly as often as it happens, because generally I’ll only see fit to mention it when it genuinely throws a spanner into the works of my publication schedule: when I’ve run out of ‘spare’ drafts I’ve been saving for rainy/less creative days, for instance. Sometimes I’ll tweet and say ‘no new blog today, sorry – please go visit the audio porn page and keep my stats in good shape!’ 

When I do this, people often reply (very kindly) by telling me to be kind to myself. Take some time off! Have a rest! We’ll still be here when you get back! You don’t need to keep writing all the time! As I say, this is very kind, but sadly it’s not helpful. I do have to keep publishing, because even if you come back, not everyone will. You don’t control the algorithms that keep my blog stats high. You aren’t able to bring every single person back, over and over, to come and read archive posts while I take a bit of mental health time. 

What’s more, even if I can’t publish, I do still have to work – edit guest blogs/audio, reply to emails, stay on top of the bits of this business that are technically ‘business’ and not just ‘wanking on about emotions in ways that hopefully get people clicking.’ If I stop writing, the guest blogs that go live that week (and guest audio too) don’t get a fair shot at traffic, because there aren’t as many returning visitors. This isn’t fair on the people who write/record those, as it’s not fair on the sponsors who pay me for ad time or the Patreons who pay me to keep the audio project running. 

This isn’t really like a salaried job, where I can just hand stuff over to a colleague and go on holiday for a couple of weeks. I’m not complaining, because I love my job. But to return to my analogy from the beginning: if you have a salaried job and you forgot how to do it, a decent employer would have you off sick for a while and someone covering until you were well enough that you could return to what you were doing before. I don’t have that, so I do still have to write, even if I’ve temporarily forgotten how to do it. 

Anyway. Bear with me. That’s what I’m saying: bear with me. 


  • Pangolin says:

    More than happy to bear with you. Your writing just gets better and better. I re-read the NNN/cumshot duo over the weekend and found so many things I’d missed the first time. I’m also in awe of the amount of content on your site.
    I know you already know/don’t want to hear all the things I could say at this point but, please, just do the bare minimum to get through the next couple of weeks. Sure, some people might not wait/come back, but others will, and still more will flock to read the seriously hot post you write in about three months time about the filthy/sexy/ridiculous thing you did with a dude you haven’t even met yet.

    Keep on keeping on xx

    • Girl on the net says:

      “about the filthy/sexy/ridiculous thing you did with a dude you haven’t even met yet.” This made me grin =) That is a good point – and thank you so much! I really appreciate your lovely words, and yeah I will absolutely continue to chuck stuff up, even if I don’t think it’s especially great! Thank you for being so supportive and lovely! xx

  • Switchington Bear says:

    It’s maybe a little ironic that I am unsure of myself in posting a reply to this as I’m worried it won’t be good enough or won’t come across quite how I intend (which is the reason I don’t reply to enough of your posts tbh), but I just wanted to say that I think many people will be able to relate to what you’re describing within whatever context fits with their own lives, and certainly will be happy to bear with you because the quality of your work is absolutely worth it.

    I read a few blogs but yours is the one I will always keep coming back to because whatever you write about you have a way of articulating the subject matter that I find incredibly engaging; you can make me laugh, make me think, turn me on, make me feel a whole range of other emotions. You can make me feel you have somehow got inside my head and you’ve written the post specifically to appeal to me.

    As a result you have a lot of followers that can very much relate to you and appreciate the effort you put in to your work.

    Also you obviously set yourself a high bar when it comes to what you consider is good enough to publish, which can make it more difficult to get content out but clearly it’s important that you yourself are happy with what you publish even if you are probably your own worst critic, something else I can relate to.

    All of this is hard work and is mentally draining, so it’s perfectly natural that sometimes the brain rebels and enforces its own fallow period until it can regain its creative fertility again. And it will certainly do that.

    In the meantime I for one will absolutely bear with you. In fact it’s a great excuse to re-read some of your older work that I haven’t seen for a while and I’m actually quite looking forward to that.

    • Girl on the net says:

      Thank you so so much SB! Your comment has really brightened up my morning, and I am so pleased that you think my work is good! And yes, you’re right about other people relating to this January/down/writer’s block feeling – since I published this I’ve had more chats with other writerly types who all seem to be struggling right now too. So if nothing else it’s good to know that we aren’t alone, and hopefully when spring is on the horizon the ideas and words might flow a little better! Thank you so so much <3

  • ftandhubby says:

    Sometimes you just need to throw the proverbial shit on the wall and see what sticks. I procrastinated for years about a writing project I wanted to do to contribute an article to a newsletter we belong too. I would never have been happy with what I’d come up with until the editor let everyone know the next issue may likely be the last. Just throw the shit up on the wall and everyone will enjoy it…..or not!

    • Girl on the net says:

      Haha the ‘throw shit at the wall’ is an absolutely excellent way to put it – I feel a lot like I’ve been doing that for most of my blogging life, and to this day it still amazes me what sticks sometimes. Thank you so much for the encouragement!

  • Llencelyn says:

    Bruh, sometimes I forget how to human for days. Can’t make it past 10 seconds of conversation before feeling I have nothing else to say and making an excuse to leave, “…Did I leave the stove on? ​I must go. My stove needs me.”

    I think you write exceedingly well. Feels like you’re talking. Which effortlessly holds my attention throughout any given post.

    Anyways, I don’t say this to invalidate your assessment of your writing or of the logistics surrounding all of this. Sounds terribly stressful and I get it…the part of not having the luxury of just saying, “Did I leave my stove on? I must go. My stove needs me.” and dropping everything for a while.

    Buuuuut, I look forward to your next post!

    • Girl on the net says:

      Thank you so much Llencelyn! God, I am extremely lucky to have this kind of support, and I massively appreciate your kind words – thank you! <3

  • Longtime reader and fan says:

    My employer technically owns my home computer, so in an abundance of caution, I go into incognito browser mode whenever I look at porn or GOTN or other degenerate filth. This occurs pretty much every day, because that’s how I roll.

    At the start of every let’s-get-a-boner break, GOTN is the first thing I generally check. I don’t have a bookmark for the site or for anything filthy, because a bookmark would be even easier to discover than browser history if my employer ever got snoopy. So I type in your URL every time I check, while wondering if I’m silly to be so cautious.

    Sometimes I feel doubly silly while checking, if I have already read something you posted the prior day, because you don’t normally post two days in a row. Ah, but once in a while you do, so I overrule the default anti-silly settings, just in case.

    In addition to being a delightful source of boners, your writing is powerful because you share your vulnerability. Never forget that you’re the baddest of bad-ass blogging babes, having retired that trophy after talking with your Mum about songs to hum with a dick in one’s mouth. I’ve been making a living as a writer since before you were born, but you’re the writer I want to be if I grow up.

    Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off in search of fresh boners on page 78 of your Filthy Ones archive. Mmmm…. filthy boners.

    • Girl on the net says:

      Ohhh, honestly this is such a lovely message. I didn’t reply last night when I spotted it because I was feeling a bit overwhelmed with emotion. That’s really kind of you, and I am so delighted that you like my work enough to go through the faff of manually checking! Your comment has brought me a lot of joy today and maybe even the confidence to hit ‘publish’ on a post, and I can’t thank you enough <3

  • Phoenix Rose says:

    I felt this post. Hard.
    I forgot how to write mid November and don’t like anything I’ve done since. In an effort to ‘get out of my funk’ I wrote around 30 ideas/plot setups. Now they’re just staring at me with ever-increasing judgement at my inability to make them into complete stories. Or, at least, stories that might be decent.
    Thank you for writing this.

    • Girl on the net says:

      Ugh I absolutely know the ‘staring at me with judgment’ feeling! I have so many drafts like this right now. =( Best of luck and I hope that the muse visits you soon!

  • Longtime reader and fan says:

    You are quite welcome. Now keep writing — keep pursuing your worthy mission of reorienting sex from shame to exhilaration.

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