Un-blocking Writer's Block

headshot 5 croppedThere are days when writing comes out of me like wildfire, where it’s clear to me that something much greater than myself is merely using me as the vessel for whatever it has to say.  When I read the writing of others, I can sense it when they’re coming from this exact place. I can read it in their words, feel it somewhere in my stomach. Then there are also days when I can't seem to resonate with myself, I can’t seem to open the door or the gateway to my own words not because I don’t have any, but because I have too many. I don’t know where to put them all.

So, I freeze. I become intrinsically aware that there are many things to be said but am simultaneously overwhelmed by all the different ways to say them. I am so determined, so hell bent on getting something down on a page that my determination muffles me and works the exact opposite of the way I want it to: it stifles my creativity and hardens the shell around me, making it impossible to crack open. I get stuck. My pushing tires my muscles and puts me to sleep.

Such was the case this morning, as I woke up in bed on the second day in a row with an understanding that I needed to get something out on paper but with too many ways, too many words with which I could do so. I felt trapped. I have been here before, I thought to myself, but I have yet to master the way out.  Unfortunately for this recovering perfectionist, the way out is usually to write something down and post it anyways. As I give myself permission to write imperfectly, future writing can more easily find its way onto a less judgmental page.

There’s a paradox at play here and that’s what I’ve figured out around the horribly uncomfortable experience that is writer’s block.  We must forgive ourselves, not fight ourselves, in order to be who we were created to be. In order to hold onto a habit of consistent creation, we must first let go. To steal a few lines from an author whose words spoke to me when I couldn’t find it within me to speak this morning:

"As for discipline – it’s important, but sort of over-rated. The more important virtue for a writer, I believe, is self-forgiveness. Because your writing will always disappoint you. Your laziness will always disappoint you. You will make vows: “I’m going to write for an hour every day,” and then you won’t do it. You will think: “I suck, I’m such a failure. I’m washed-up.” Continuing to write after that heartache of disappointment doesn’t take only discipline, but also self-forgiveness (which comes from a place of kind and encouraging and motherly love)." – Elizabeth Gilbert, Author, Eat, Pray, Love

As I'm notorious for saying to any one of my friends who is beating themselves up for any particular reason, I've never beat myself into anything. Only through gentleness have I come out of hiding, only through forgiveness have I ever changed what I so desperately wish to change. And only through the acceptance of imperfection can something so perfectly imperfect be born.