Alright, let’s tackle something that has come up an awful lot recently: Writer’s block.
Yes, it does exists and I don’t care if famous writers or your mother disagrees.
For instance, this little quote from Terry Pratchett has always driven me crazy:
“There’s no such thing as writer’s block. That was invented by people in California who couldn’t write.”
“All writing is difficult. The most you can hope for is a day when it goes reasonably easily. Plumbers don’t get plumber’s block, and doctors don’t get doctor’s block; why should writers be the only profession that gives a special name to the difficulty of working, and then expects sympathy for it?”
Because writer’s block is a real and actual thing and it is terrible for everyone who experiences it, and those of us experiencing it aren’t looking for sympathy when we talk about it (and yes, we are very creative people who CAN write), and guess what?!
Not allowing ourselves space, time, and kindness to work through writer’s block can kill all the creativity.
Unfortunately, it is quotes like these that propagate the idea that writers with writer’s block are failures. Wrong.
Look. Life exists. We get busy. We get distracted. We get frustrated and unsure.
For instance, this post is brought to you in part by Roxane Gay. I follow her on twitter. Last week she posted about being afraid that her mojo is gone for good. Her tweet laments that she is not putting out her best work.
Is this stopping her from writing?
No. Probably not.
Is it severely dampening her will to create?
But this lady is crazy busy.
Just like you might be crazy busy raising your children.
Or working that job that pays the bills.
Or maybe you are severely distracted by the sheer horror that is United States politics (damn you twitter!).
Whatever the reason, the case, the purpose, it is not a terrible thing to feel stuck in your writing. Perhaps you are midway through a book; just starting a short story; playing with a poem or a set of lyrics, but yet absolutely nothing is working.
Be gentle with yourself.
Always be gentle with yourself.
I have dealt with some major depression in my life and I use yoga and meditation as a way to make friends with my demons. Yes, I make friends with my demons. I used to try to do battle with them. Failed. Then I tried to control them. Yeah, that failed too. Somewhere in my early thirties I thought I would just ignore them and push them away. They came roaring back with battle axes and cannons.
I was bloodied and near perishing after that confrontation.
Somewhere in the process of recovering I found the aforementioned yoga and meditation. In my perusal of these subjects, I read a book by Thich Nhat Hnah in which he speaks of being kind to ourselves. If a child was hurt and crying, would we yell at the child? Demand that it stop the crying? Tell them to toughen up?
Okay. There are those individuals who might say that to a crying child, but I seriously doubt they are reading this blog.
So for the rest of you, the sight of a crying child would probably insight a need to care for the child, to cuddle them, to help them not feel so sad.
Hnah asks in his book: Why then do we not do that for ourselves?
When we are hurt, crying, and pain, why do we not comfort ourselves, take care of ourselves? Instead, we demand better behavior. We look at our crying faces in the mirror and ask ourselves “what the hell is wrong with you?”
We separate ourselves from ourselves.
That darkness is not me.
That depression is not me.
That writer’s block is. not. me.
Sound a bit familiar?
But see. Why?! Why do we do that to ourselves?
I had to cross several different thresholds of insight until I realized that the demons that I battle against, those terrible waves of darkness that seem to drag me down to the abyss every once in awhile, are a part of me.
An INTRINSIC part of me.
Why am I battling them? Trying to conquer them?
You know where I am going with this, dear reader.
Why do we battle against ourselves when we are unable to write? Should we sit down to write even when we don’t want to? Sure, of course, keep engaged.
But be kind.
Maybe we are too busy with life. Children. Jobs. Illness. Debt. Taxes. The status of the world.
Maybe our story isn’t quite ready to be told.
Whatever the case, be kind to yourself because that writer’s block exists, and it’s okay.
And you just might find that being kind, accepting, and cuddling that dreaded writer’s block is a surer way to get through it then doing battle with axes and cannons.