There was a time when, quite smugly, when I would laugh when I read about or someone told me they were suffering from, writer’s block. I didn’t laugh out loud. Instead, I would have a concerned look on my face and nod gravely, much like a doctor listening to the symptoms of a patient.
But inside . . . well, inside I was kind of laughing. Thinking to myself that this is some made up excuse for not writing. I should know, because I’ve got plenty of experience with excuse-making-upping as a runner.
But I’m not laughing anymore.
For more than a year (a YEAR! I honestly didn’t know it had been that long) I didn’t write a blog post. Occasionally, friends or family would ask about writing. Or even say something kind, like they missed my blog posts and hoped I would start posting again soon. I would nod and smile, in a much different way this time, and agree that I did need to post something. Or that I had been busy with kids or work or laundry or watering the cat or any other such number of excuses.
However, I knew that wasn’t true.
I think probably writer’s block is different for different people. And I’m still not sure I completely understand what it has been for me. It seemed to take the shape of a number of things mixing together, combining into one formidable foe. It was a combination of fears and anxieties that became not just a mental block to coming up with new ideas; it also became almost a physical block, like an invisible force that stood between me and my keyboard.
I do know one thing: most of the time I didn’t even want to write. After my last post in March of 2016, I would have writing ideas come to me from time to time. Usually they were very vague. And most of those ideas were (how can I say this nicely) lame.
Or at least they seemed lame to me. It seemed that most of my ideas and even my writing (if I got that far) was not very good. Certainly not good enough for . . . for what? Well, for anything. Or anyone. It didn’t seem that anything I wrote could possibly be good enough for anyone else to read. So why bother writing?
That led to another aspect of writer’s block for me: even if my writing was any good, I didn’t think anyone would want to read it. I mean, I didn’t have anything worth saying, so why would anyone want to read it. Garbage all. Or so I felt.
So it went on. Days without writing stretched into weeks. And weeks into months.
Last summer, I bought a new laptop. As you can probably guess, like most of what I do, I don’t do it like normal people. Buying a new computer is no exception. Most people look at things like memory and speed and important things like that. Not me; I always test it out to see how it feels typing on the keyboard.
The one I picked out had the best “feel” to a keyboard I’d ever had. “Oh boy!” I thought. “Now I’ll really do some writing!”
But if anything I became worse. I had this beautiful new piece of technology (I’m a sucker for the latest in new gadgets) . . . that sat on my desk, nothing but an expensive paper weight.
Occasionally I would get it out and surf the net. And every once in a while I would think about writing, maybe even venturing to my website. But that’s as far as I could get. At that point, my heart would either literally race or I would be struck by a great big feeling of Who Cares.
On it went. Until finally just a couple of weeks ago. I’m really not sure even what happened. But I think it’s something my son did. He asked me if it would be okay if he showed my blog to his friends. (Yes, I know that’s sad. Teenage boys who read blog posts for fun. Another sad and troubling commentary on the youth of our country. But that’s a blog post for another time.)
Whether it was that or something else, I felt like writing. In fact, I felt a need to write. Something. Anything. But would it be good enough? Would anyone want to read it?
That’s the thing though. Was I writing for other people or was I writing for me? And if it wasn’t “good enough”, who really cares. I needed to write, to express myself in my own goofy, warped way. But it was my way.
Have I overcome writer’s block? I don’t know. I’m not sure if anyone ever overcomes a fear. Overcome is a strong word. Instead, I think we learn to tame it. To live with it. To face the thing that you fear and do it anyway.
That’s where I am now. It feels like a good place. No promises, but I hope I can stay here, and continue doing this thing I enjoy so much.