When the honeymoon phase is over

“I seek strength, not to be superior to my brother, but to fight my greatest enemy—myself.”

Excerpt from Native American Lakota prayer, Chief Yellow Lark, 1887

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? 

Happy Monday Dreamers—here’s to working hard while finding joy! ⚖️

9 thoughts on “When the honeymoon phase is over

  1. Recent ways I’ve been handling blocks are through asking questions (especially about details that seem to be underappreciated or overlooked and how and why they connect to each other and to me), searching and brainstorming for answers, and considering scenarios and even anagrams.

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    1. I love this! What a great way to push through. I feel like whenever I ask myself questions, I come up with more questions instead of answers! I’m curious about the use of anagrams…do you use it as a brain exercise to stay sharp? I haven’t played with them in years, but this makes me want to. Thank you so much for the comment!

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  2. Thanks Rachel. And thanks for asking me (and others like me) these questions. Yes I use anagrams as a brain exercise to stay sharp and to stay/feel alive because if I did notdo that, boredom would kill me more. Sometimes there are certain words that really connect, stick, resonate with me and remind me of certain individuals (including me) and experiences that I can never forget and (despite the fact that I’ve also been diagnosed with depression and PTSD and despite my struggling with these and with more obstacles and setbacks) that I re-play in my mind to help motivate me and to help me and others survive. And sometimes these certain words are strong enough to the point where I wonder a lot about them, and why I relate to or identify with them so much, why they may seem oddly familiar, and if there are anagrams or deeper meanings for and within them. If you’re still curious about my use of anagrams, I recently realized and wrote about a few of them (including the word please) over at my blogs. For the record, your use of the word please (before you asked your question about handling a block) impacted me enough to write/blog about an anagram for please. I don’t know if my blog post about this anagram is necessarily good, but if it is, then more thanks for you Rachel and your blogging.

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    1. I just went to your blog and saw the latest anagram on please. It’s great! I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your comments, and am happy my writing is helping make an impact on other writers. It sounds like you have been through a lot, suffering from PTSD and depression, which always makes life a little more difficult. Sometimes it can feel like “What’s the point?” But because of those experiences and what we have survived, I truly believe it makes us strong. It doesn’t always feel like it, but we are. And writing is a great outlet for all those emotions and struggles, and I think it’s important you are asking yourself why those words resonate with you. You have also inspired me to consider posting some of the word play I like to do, which is breaking apart dictionary definitions. Much lengthier and not quite as much fun as anagrams though, lol! Thank you for all your kind words, and your honesty about your life experiences. I hope today is good to you! 🥰

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  3. Sweet! Thanks Rachel. I feel that difficulty and that question, and I believe it making us strong too. And I agree with you about writing and asking. Your considering posting some of your word play since I’ve inspired you is an honor; so I’m more grateful for you. Also I’m wondering if it’s ok with you if in the comments section under my blogs’ “anagram for please” post that i comment with a shout-out to you and your blog post for inspiring me to write my poem. If no, I’m fine with that too. I’d like to credit you, but I don’t want to embarrass you if you think it’s embarrassing. And if you’re still curious, and in response to your “what brings you joy?” question: When I remember the times when I felt joy, what they have in common is that they happened unexpectedly, when I (or at least part of me) felt closer to being gone (because I surrendered myself or had given a lot more than I thought I had to others (especially those I care about), when my expectations were low and then I was proven very wrong, and/or when those I care about gave more than I thought was possible from them (and anyone else) to me, when I make or do something that causes someone I care about to feel joy, when these conditions all somehow happened at or near the same time creating replayable highlight memories. Hoping your day is good to you also! 🙂

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    1. I would absolutely love a shout out in your blog post! I am honored, and thank you so much! Funny you asked that, because I was going to ask the same of you as I’ve been working on my next post. Could I shout you out back? And it sounds like you find joy in your interactions with other people, which I hope means there are plenty of wonderful people in your life—it sounds like it! I love you are able to be surprised by others kindness and how you continue to give in return, because it is through our compassionate interactions with others that we make this world a more joyful place. So thank you for contributing! 💜

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      1. Yay! I’ve included a shout-out to you and your blog post in my blog post. And yes, a shout out back to me is fine, Heck yeah, i find joy in my interactions with other people and also non-people creatures (like pets) and nature. I love you understanding me and others, and I continue to agree with you. I appreciate you Rachel for your questions, listening, love. and insight; thank you 🙂

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