December 28, 2012

Maneuvering Past Writer’s Block.

Photo courtesy Drew Coffman

I feel stuck.

I want to write, but can’t.

I’m passionate about the environment. Human rights. Animals. Politics. Relationships.

I love to write about most of those things as well as general life situations, but I haven’t written anything from my heart for far too long. It’s not that I don’t want to write, or that I’m uninspired. It’s just that I’m blocked.

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Some examples of what I’d like to write about:

The story leading up to my 11-year old son saying, “Seriously, Mom. I’m not about to spend the rest of my life proving you wrong.”

My drinking escapades of years past. Why I used to drink a lot (especially in college—my roommate once found me passed out in the bunk bed with a half eaten spoonful of peanut butter) and why I hardly drink at all today.

My first sexual experience: rape. And how it shaped my future relationships and sex life. I could call it “Rape Shape.”

Am I a good enough mom?

My guilt over not being the perfect “green” person.

My New Year’s intention to walk downstream.

My parents are selling the farm. The seemingly never-ending pile of beautiful rocks—all shapes and sizes—behind the shed that I knew nothing about until this summer, why I’m collecting them and fear digging up the last one.

My addiction to socks.

The zen of cats… a photo essay.

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Will learning to train dogs be the one thing that saves my brother?

How our prison system is failing the prisoners—and those of us on the outside.

My failed attempt at writing a trashy novel.

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And here I sit, unable to write.

There are moments—some of them longer than I care to admit—when I just sit here with my eyes riveted on the screen, willing myself to create. I stop myself, intimidated by other writers who write far more eloquently than I. My ability to bang out words is often brutally murdered by fear disguised as distraction.

Fear? Yes. Fear that you, dear reader, won’t react. You won’t like it. Fear that my post will sit on elephant with less than a hundred views.

Another problem is that I set the bar for my writing so high, as if I’m supposed to be the next Jerry Seinfeld or Oprah of the blogosphere. Read: setting myself up for huge failure. Translation: excuse not to write.

Yet, once those fingers of mine start tapping away at the keyboard, my brain picks up the signal to let go of the words that have been lodged inside the recesses of my brain.

Look at that. I’m writing. This is writing, isn’t it?

But it’s not enough. I yearn to tell you a story. To make you laugh or, at the very least, chuckle. To inspire you enough that you leave a comment that says, “Lynn, thank you so much! That really resonated with me! I’m a changed person because of you!” or “I never laughed so hard. You are so hilarious!” Yes, I’m aching for some attention—I blame the middle child in me and the fact that I work alone out of the house and don’t get out enough. (Note to self: Get out more.)

Getting attention isn’t the only reason I write because that would be somewhat pathetic (wouldn’t it?). I also write because I want to get the word out about an issue that’s important to me. Also, writing can be cathartic when I’m struggling with something (like writer’s block).

And putting words to paper is something I do much better than using my mouth to speak aloud—people seem to understand me better when I write. If I didn’t write, would I even exist?

When I get out of my own way and just toss a handful of letters into the air, they swirl together into a variety of combinations and lengths, and eventually fall to the proverbial page as words and sentences.

There will be no interruption. No eyebrow raise. No loss of eye contact or glance around the room in search of a better conversationalist.

The rejection may or may not come later, after my piece has been published. And it may be silent, anonymous, which I can handle better than the face-to-face rebuff.

So now I’m writing away here, wondering what’s keeping me from writing about the subjects I listed above. It’s a good question. Writer’s block is funny that way. It’s a blockage to flow, usually self-imposed as a way to protect oneself. That’s my theory, anyway.

I feel the block moving, gradually. I know it will return and that it’s up to me to work through it—or walk away from it—and eventually just remove the words from my vocabulary.

Thanks to Edie for writing about writing. It was after reading her piece that I decided to start this post and see what would happen.


Infographic with 16 tips to maneuver past writer’s block:

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