What Is Writer’s Block?

Writers complain about it all the time. I’m part of groups and forums where they are in agony over it, and I tilt my head and wonder about what they’re saying, and why they’re trying to force themselves through it. I don’t get writers block. Which doesn’t mean I’m writing every single day or that when I write, words flow from my fingertips as effortlessly and as poetically as memory murals flowed from Elaar’s. If I’m not in the mood to write, I don’t write. The stories continue to develop and roll around, I hear a new song that captures a particular scene or emotion perfectly and I’ll store it away. I may not write for months, but I’d never felt that I’d ever experienced ‘Writers’ Block’. Why are people panicking? Is it because we feel we have to? We’re not writers unless we declare we’ve encountered this issue? A desperate plea for empathy from the only other people who could ever understand us?

Yay, another, ‘What Is….?’ post. Cause I’m in it. My words are there, on the edge of my brain, making my fingertips itch. These stories I desperately want to write are rolling around beneath my skin, colliding with each other and crashing into my walking life. The boys are in Colorado and I was so relieved when it was initially set in motion- 2.5 weeks to myself! I can write, and not worry about them. Oh thank all that’s holy and good.

It took several days for me to venture toward my computer after they left. Guilt. I haven’t found us a house, therefore, why should I be able to do something I love, something that provides me with a sanctuary?

Sitting down at my computer was a good first move, I decided. Maybe I’ll feel better tomorrow.

Tomorrow arrived, and I skimmed through the first couple of pages. I am so close to being done. In all honesty, if the last six months hadn’t happened, I’d be done. I’d be finishing up the cover design and getting it ready to publish. Trying to reintroduce myself to my own words, to my people, to the setting, I could only skim through it quickly before getting so anxious I had to leave.

Maybe the next day.

The next day, I read most of the first chapter and into the second, and cried. I hated it. I hated my words, I hated my style, I doubted the entire story- a story I LOVE. This is my favorite book, and I’m dying to finish writing it! My best events, my most beautiful moments, and I’m crying and I hate it. And I know it’s not true. I remember rewriting these pages, and how much better it is, and how I was proud of it. WTH?

Ok. Back to before. I’m not writing. I watched Extant on Amazon. (hated it) Tried to stop, but then without writing, there’s nothing else, as I’m leery of all things written, which means I can’t read a book either. I can’t get lost in anyone’s story, not just my own. So, I kept watching Extant. It got worse. At the second season, I thought WTH are these writers thinking? And that was it.

No current distractions, and yet I still can’t journey down to my computer. I sit upstairs, knowing every second that I’m avoiding it, that I’m afraid to come down.

That’s part of the problem, I think. The computer is set up in my mother’s basement- the place we didn’t venture down into alone growing up. If we were tasked with retrieving something for a parent, it was a huge ordeal. Stare down into the darkness, big pep talk, ensure the lights are on, listen for the monsters scurrying in the dark, and run for your life- first down, and then right back up the stairs, barely waiting long enough to open the door before barreling through. The stairs have no backs, and it’s empty beneath it. Perfect for The People Under The Stairs. Coming back as an adult doesn’t change your perspective much, even if you and the whole family believe (given odd occurrences) that the monsters who reside down here are actually pretty benevolent and helpful. Even so, I hate basements. People don’t understand why I detest ranch houses so much. Because all they are is one level and a basement. You’ve been decapitated. Demoted to a lesser house, with nothing but a dank place you know you’ll never venture down into, no matter how nicely finished it is.

I WANT TO WRITE, but I can’t. My one month return home plan is going on six months already. Last time, the six month return home plan became three years, and I just cannot do it again. I get in my car after work and I’m hit with an anxiety attack. This isn’t my home. I don’t want this to be my kids’ lives. But I have to drive back, and I can’t change it. The basement underwent a flash flood a few weeks ago. It poured so hard the ground and the drains couldn’t soak up the water, so it came pouring up the drains into everyone’s homes. I came home to find my cat trapped on my son’s bed, floating in the water. It’s been a month since then, and those baby steps listed above to get me comfortable enough to turn the computer on one day, look at it another, read another. Today, I’m writing this.

What is writers’ block? I don’t know, but I think I have it. I think it’s a blanket statement for the purpose of not addressing the real issue. It’s a secondary condition, an incidental occurrence. Whatever the hell it is, I hate it, I want it to go away. I thought that I could buy a laptop, so that I can write elsewhere, but it’s not possible. I really have to just suck it up and deal. Deal better.

What do they say, we’re right-brained people? That is where creativity of any sort is born and lives and grows? I hate Chicago, I feel trapped and suffocating and I feel myself getting chipped away with every car trip. This is how people become hermits. If I’m to become a hermit, dammit, it’s going to be in a forest or something! Absolutely not here. If my block is secondary, I have to treat the issues. Housing in the Chicago area sucks. Unless you have the funds to pay up to $8000/yr in taxes. I can’t do anything more than I’ve been doing. Though I did change realtors, and that made me happy. But I can’t stress about it. ‘Believe’ from Mumford & Sons has become my theme song of the moment, the tune and the plea that helps me calm down and stay hopeful. Boys are on their own vacation without me, so I planned one for myself. Chicago is wearing me down, so I’m going camping! On an 5×6 mile island. Via ferry. Holy crap, I cannot wait. I also bought myself a coloring book for adults! Right-brained, remember? I can’t read, I can’t write. My stuff’s in storage so I can’t sew, or paint, or finish my sketches, but coloring is enough to maybe trick my head, get me to relax and feel comfortable again. Back in the spirit of creativity. I even drank a beer! Not a truly real beer, I admit. I bought it at Target and it’s only like 4% alcohol, which is half my normal wine content. But still, I drank a beer, and I colored. And I laughed. Just a little. Cause me, the non-drinker, drank a not-real beer and colored on her bathroom floor. And not one of the five upstairs cats tried to interrupt, which is saying a whole lot.

Have to believe I’m steering my own treatment and cure. That or I’m just really losing my mind.

Wish the rest of you well- better than I’m doing I hope! If not, take a deep breath, find your theme song, and distract yourself with something. Here’s a recent article about adults and coloring from the Chicago Tribune. And here’s a link from Amazon to browse all the many now available. Here’s another from Dover. My one sister did the Secret Garden several months ago, and the other one is trying out the peaceful patterns. My order for Mindfulness did not come in yesterday as originally promised, so I googled free Mandala sheets and used those in the interim.

Even if you’re happy, buy yourself a coloring book! And don’t share with the kids.

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