Is there anything more frustrating than feeling the need to create something but no knowing how to harness the energy?
Writers block has been holding me hostage for some time now.
Interestingly enough, I struggled to even call it writers block in the first place because I struggle to call myself a writer. Why? I’m not particularly sure. Maybe because I haven’t studied it enough, because I’m not disciplined enough, because I haven’t practiced enough (despite over 20 years of schooling and journaling), because I don’t feel good enough. Insert any of my usual self-deprecating beliefs here and it’s probably why I struggle to call myself a writer. Despite these negative thoughts, I always bring myself back to writing about how I feel and why I feel it.
The most insidious thing about writers block it that it convinces me that I don’t need to write, despite the fact that I clearly desperately want to write. This contradiction reveals how out of touch we can be with our emotions. It’s incredible how we can feel something so clearly, and yet still rationalize it away as something else. I often expect that if I’m good at something, it should be naturally or easily. So, if It’s not coming easily, it must not be for me, right? No.
If there’s anything that my multiple therapy sessions have taught me it’s that there is no such thing as an emotional blockage that does not need to be broken down. The best opportunities for progress come with the fortitude to sit down and work through the discomfort that arises when we are forced to feel stuck. With writer’s block, that discomfort can be labeled as feeling frustrated or inadequate. Sitting with these feelings is the only way to work through them. It doesn’t mean that what you write next will Be Pulitzer-worthy. It just means you’re teaching your mind how to work with you instead of against you, which will in turn only make you a better writer. Therapy has also taught me that talking through negative feelings is the best way to conquer them:
“Ok, so I have writers block right now. Why do I have writers block? Well I’m not sure but how is it making me feel? I’m feeling anxious and frustrated because I can’t think of what to say. It’s making me feel bad about myself. Ok, so what if you can’t think of what to say? Well, it means I’m not a good writer. Ok, and so what if maybe you’re not a good writer? Well…”
The scariest thing about an emotion is often it’s powerful ability to convince ourselves we are at its mercy. But we are only as powerful as our ability to work through how we feel. Whenever I do the exercise above, my negative feelings don’t feel so scary. It’s not about the writer’s block, it’s about the feelings that come with them. The implication of what it might mean if I can’t do what I think I should be doing. Take away the feelings, and writers block is nothing. So, you don’t write anything for a while. Big deal! You’re still a valuable human being with feelings and a life to live.
I guess the point is, I’m learning to get more comfortable with feeling stuck because I’m learning to get more comfortable living with not knowing and transcending the realm of “what if.” As the theme of my life this year is “the only way out is through,” every situation is an opportunity for growth.
^ See, that wasn’t so bad!