becalmedRight now I am under a tight deadline for a really cool client with a really groovy product. And my head is empty. The inspiration that I got last night was gone upon waking. The usual reinvigorators – walking the dog, getting a coffee, making a social call – have not proved fruitful. My muse refuses to darken my door.

I think of ancient sailing ships, sitting unmoving in the middle of the still Pacific Ocean, sun bearing down on them, sails hanging limply without a breath of wind to stir them…


There are a variety of techniques people use to get the juices flowing again, and one of the techniques I enjoy the most is free writing.

I simply open my favorite text editor (Writer by iA) and start writing words. Any words. Just write that I am typing words and I don’t know why and what the heck I am gonna be all ee cummings and not use any punctuation at all and simply write in a stream of consciousness that will drain the blockage from the tubes in my head and allow ideas to flow freely like a mighty river…

You get the idea.

I was about to do exactly that when the word “becalmed” occurred to me. The urgent listlessness one feels when becalmed is intriguing. I imagine a “Pirates of the Caribbean” style pirate after being becalmed for a week, leaning on the railing, head hanging over the side, watching the still waters. He lives and thrives on the sea because he likes the action, the travel, the movement from place to place. But here he sits, utterly trapped, unable to move due to forces that are simply beyond his control.

Then the word split in two, right in front of my eyes, and became Be Calmed.

It sounded like an order. The imperative.


Grasping for ideas, for inspiration, for the perfect tag line for this client, is not just unproductive. It is pushing me further from achieving a productive working state.

Until I calm myself, move past the state of anxiety that I am in, I can’t be productive. It’s like that sailor trying to fill his lungs with air and blow into the sails of his ship… he’ll eventually fall over and pass out from making himself light-headed. And even after all that effort, his ship will not have moved an inch.

Knowing that I am becalmed, I will now move on to something else (probably laundry) after resetting the client’s expectations with an honest email.

That’s a good way to start.

Now to pray for wind…