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April 10, 2021

“You Suck at This So Why Are You Even Trying?” – The Voice in My Head During Writer’s Block

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.

Ahhh, the first taste of my morning coffee!

I pull my duvet closer and savour every sip of my lovingly-crafted, fresh from the aeropress, full strength Cuban latte. The morning sunshine glints on the little gold stars on my “Cosmic Girl” mug and I exhale with satisfaction. This is my favourite part of the day.

Or at least it used to be.

The caffeine starts to take effect and my brain wakes up a little. I turn and look at the notebook and pen sitting right next to me on my bedside table. It’s time for my Morning Pages (the concept I learned about from Julia Cameron’s “The Artist’s Way”).

My heart sinks slightly. I’m tired. I’m just not in the mood. My brain starts trying to talk me out of it, telling me I’m totally not a morning person and I’ll write later on when I get around to it. I’m tempted to switch on the TV or scroll through Instagram.

But then I feel guilty. I mean, am I a writer or not??

I open my beautiful notebook with its multi-coloured beaded cover. The creamy paper feels smooth beneath my fingertips. My pen is poised. And…..

Nothing.

My mind is as blank as the page staring back at me. I begin to feel frustrated with myself, at my lack of ideas, at my inability to even focus on what I’m doing. It’s then that the little voice in my head pops up and says, “See? I told you! You suck at this so why are you even trying? Just put the pen down and follow us into the mindless world of mid-morning television, where life is much easier and you won’t have to worry about a thing!” So I put my pen down and switch on the TV.

I watch some local news footage about an eleven year old girl playing the violin with her school orchestra, as I did when I was that age.

Suddenly a distant memory comes back to me.

My elderly violin teacher, Mr. Rankin, a cantankerous but kindly Scottish man, had asked me one day why I clearly hadn’t practised during the week. I replied that I hated practising because it felt like homework. “But you like coming to your lessons and playing music, don’t you?” he asked. I admitted that I did enjoy playing very much. He smiled and said “Okay. When you get home from school, just say to yourself ‘You know what? I’m just gonna spend ten minutes with my violin.’ And take it out of its case and just play whatever you want. It doesn’t have to be boring scales or exercises. It doesn’t even have to sound good! Just PLAY. And you’ll take a quick peek at your watch and find that ten minutes has gone by like THAT!” – he snapped his fingers in mid-air.

It was brilliant advice. By removing the word ‘practise’, it no longer felt like a chore, but a little bit of quality time to be enjoyed. It was FUN. And then something just clicked. I realised what the problem was. I was putting myself under immense pressure to create something worthy of public consumption, every single time I picked up my pen, every single morning.

I wanted to remove that pressure. I wanted to have fun.

So today I thought to myself, ‘What if I decide that nobody else is ever going to see my morning pages? How about I make them something I do just for ME? How about I remember that writing is something I actually love doing?”

And I immediately felt lighter.

So tomorrow morning I’ll try saying to myself, “You know what? I’m just gonna spend ten minutes with my beautiful notebook.” And I’ll just sip my delicious coffee and, you know, see what happens…..

Maybe it’ll become my favourite part of the day again.

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