For those who celebrate, I hope you had a good Thanksgiving! I was originally going to do an entry about the holiday. I had nearly a whole post written, but scrapped it. I have fallen victim to writer’s block. Not the kind where I can’t write, but the type that makes me hate what I write.
When I first began this journey at the end of August, I was full of ambition and drive. I signed up for a web hosting service, and transferred some of my creative and freelance writings over from an old backup drive onto my iPad. I looked up how to create a writer’s resume, signed up for social media accounts, began recording a few blog ideas, and started a short story.
Then school began, which meant working in the mornings and trying to get my youngest son on a homeschool schedule. By the end of September we were in Duluth, getting grad pics done for my oldest. I also caught a cold, and once that was gone and October came, I got COVID. Overall I ended up out of work for two weeks, recovering from it all, and bummed I didn’t complete my goal of having my website done by the end of September. But life, right? At that point I felt fortunate to have my health back, and grateful my case wasn’t severe.
I didn’t give up, even though there were times I was ready to fall back into my old pattern of saying I’m going to be a writer, then not doing anything about it. But I purposely paid for a website to remind myself to take it seriously and not waste my money (an investment in myself and my dreams). So I fought back against all life’s factors, telling them I’m not quitting. I launched my website. I became active on social media, and kept writing.
However, November has seemed to have derailed me. Three months in, and I’m struggling—struggling to care, struggling to write. Wondering what I possibly have to say of value for all of you out there. I know this is something all writers deal with, (writer’s block), and often it is tied to our emotions. Artists, which writers are, have deep feelings and emotions. It’s what allows us to create believable, colorful, enduring characters. It’s what helps us tap into the wide range of human emotions.
So like many other artists, I have suffered from depression. This is something I first dealt with in my late teen years. During extremely hard times in my life, I have sought out therapy and medication. Most of the time I rely on all the skills I have been taught from wonderful psychologists and self-help books. I am an easy-going, fun-loving, optimistic person by nature, but sometimes life’s circumstances throw me for a loop. There have been times I embraced the darkness, and stayed there, allowing it to nearly suffocate me.
But other times I have what they call low-grade depression—where I’m not really unhappy, but not much brings me joy, and ambition is lacking. It’s currently where I’m at, and it’s causing me to doubt my path. It is hard to inspire others when inspiration is not forthcoming. Part of me knows this is my test. Just how passionate am I about following my dream? As much as I love writing, it’s not always easy and sometimes it’s lonely. Quitting is simple. I’ve done it too many times to count.
Yet I am reminded of the saying: Nothing worth doing is easy. I know writer’s block comes and goes. I know I’m my own worst enemy. And starting something new is usually fun. There is an excitement to it, like when we first fall in love and everything about the person is fresh and thrilling. But it takes hard work to stick with it. Relationships, writing, dreams…they all take effort, and not every second is fun. And with writing, well…it can take years to reap the rewards of our labor. It is not for those seeking instant gratification.
I am also not young anymore. My teens and early 20’s were some of my most prolific writing days. I didn’t have children or pets to take care of. I had a tiny one bedroom apartment to keep clean, and cooking a huge meal every night wasn’t necessary for the two of us. The internet was just beginning to emerge, and I didn’t even have a cell phone. There were far fewer distractions, and if I felt like writing all day on my time off, I did. I would take down or turn off all the clocks, and be blissfully unaware of what time it was, sometimes for a whole weekend. I had plenty of time to suffer from writer’s block and then get over it. But time, for us mortals, does not stretch on indefinitely, and I have less of it to waste.
So these days I have to fight much harder to make it a priority. Which is what I did today. My plan was to go into work this morning and prep for the week, then come home, do homeschooling and cleaning, and then write. Except something told me if I waited until the end of the day to write, I wouldn’t. I’d let my mood win and give up. Instead I woke up today and told myself to write first. No matter how much I hate what I’m putting on paper, do it. So I have. I will keep moving forward. I will keep the beasts at bay. I will tread cautiously and be kind to myself while I am battling my inner war. It’s a delicate balance.
So, please, writers…dreamers…artists…how do you handle a block? How do you get back on your feet after facing obstacles, whether they are external or internal? What brings you joy?