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Reframing Writer’s Block


The last time I posted here, I said on Facebook that posting weekly was part of my self-compassion practice.

Then I promptly skipped a week. (I love the universe’s sense of humour. It seems like as soon as you put something out there, it ups the ante: “Oh yeah? Prove it.”)

So what happened? The short version: all the moving-driving-packing-unpacking finally caught up to me, and the wheels fell off.

Slightly longer: I’d gotten a good start on something the day after I posted the last piece, and then I put it aside for a few days… and allowed myself to be distracted by building Ikea furniture, moving things around our new place, and making chili. Alas, it turned out I’d left it a little too long and by the time I got back to it, it had left me. It was stale and dead, and I kicked at it for a while but it stayed dead. So I eventually set it aside and tried to come up with something else — I always have a backup plan — but sadly, the backup piece was equally stubborn. I was tired. Anxious.

Bored. Massively self-critical.

So I gave up. I let it go, broke my streak after 28 weeks, and decided to pick up again this week. No shame, no

blame. Okay, maybe a little shame at first, for a little while. But I got over it.

Here’s the thing: there was a time—not so very long ago, not at all—when I would have kept beating myself over the head with my failure to produce. I would have berated myself into utter paralysis, and then I would have said I had “writer’s block.”

But now…I’m not even sure I believe in writer’s block anymore. I mean, I’m not denying the experience of this thing that stops your pen in its tracks and freezes your brain. I’m not denying the panic, the sense of just not being able to get the words out, the sense of creative juices drying up. It happens all the time. Just google “writer’s block” and you’ll see. In fact, what I experienced last week felt, in my body, exactly like what I remembered as “writer’s block.” It felt dark, heavy, my whole body felt heavy, achy, mopey, eyelids heavy, limbs made

of lead, trying to swim through a swamp of molasses full of alligators.

The thing is, there are lots of other things that feel the same in my body: boredom, depression, fear, ennui, apathy, distraction, procrastination, indecision. Oh, and fatigue, brain fog, hunger, dehydration and/or seasonal allergies.

So maybe there’s a more helpful way to look at this. Maybe there’s a way to actually do something about this paralysis we’re calling writer’s block. You know, while we’re waiting for the Muse to come back from snorkeling in Aruba or wherever she got to.

Simplest of all, and what I did first, was to just start with the body. I needed rest. Never mind all the things I coulda-shoulda done differently. Maybe I shoulda-coulda gotten back to writing that piece sooner, instead of making one more trip to Ikea, or watching GoT on Netflix.

Whatever. Done is done, move on. Have water. Eat. Sleep. Move your body.