Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Throwback: On Writer's Block

This post originally appeared on the blog in Nov. 2014

It was like I woke up one morning and it was GONE.

It came out of nowhere--this not knowing.

Where this story was heading.

The words I needed to tell it.

All. Gone.

And no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't find them. The words I did find I couldn't make work.

It went beyond "spewing crap," which I encourage every writer to do, even when it's hard: just get something on paper.

I couldn't even spew crap, and it was one of the worst feelings ever, because I AM writing, and writing is ME: we are not one without the other. And at the time I honestly didn't think I would ever get past this block.

Writer's Block

I've been blocked before--sure. I'm a writer. It comes with the territory. But being pregnant with my second kid brought more than just a block. Before, whenever I was stuck, I could do what all good writers suggest and it would work:

Take a break. Read a book. Take a nap. Work on another project. Go for a walk. Movie binge. Go back to the last place everything "worked" and take a different route. . . .

All sound advice.

But what do you do when you're pregnant and puking your guts out every morning, on vitamins and Unisom to make it through the day, and you Just Can't Write?

I knew I needed to get as much written as possible before the baby came, because I would be worthless the first few months after he was born (at the very least), but every time I tried the session would end in anger and frustration and tears. I would write for "hours" with only a few sentences or a paragraph to show for it. 

So I gave up. I put the laptop away. I quit.

I felt like such a failure.

I worried I would be forgotten--that, by the time I was able to publish again people would have moved on. 

I felt incomplete.

So I started drawing--something I've always enjoyed, but never really made time for. And it helped. The block, it seems, only divided the "word" part of my brain from my fingers. Everything else seemed to work just fine.

Drawing became my outlet. My release. It kept me centered. Sane.

Until the baby was born and I was too exhausted to even care about making up stories. Until the holidays passed. Until I started to feel more like myself--still sleep-deprived, but more able to deal with it all. Until one day I picked up my laptop and opened the file. . . .

Here, I confirmed rather quickly that yes--everything I'd tried to add to my story while pregnant was utter crap.

And I fixed it. I removed and reworded.

I was back.

And now I'm here to remind you that this, too, shall pass--whatever it is you're dealing with right now. Whatever is keeping you from giving 100% to your writing or your passion: the block doesn't last forever. 

There are unfortunate realities--realities we have no control over. It's better to just admit that they exist and move on from there. We can't change the reality, but we can choose our attitude--how we deal with it. 

Fact: I had to stop writing for a while. 

It was upsetting, yes, but I began to see it as an opportunity to focus my attention elsewhere. I had to realize that "failing" at writing for all those months didn't make me a failure as a person. 

What's most important is that I learned from the experience and returned at the appointed time. 

And you will, too.

That is all.  :D