Last week I shared a story —The Surprise— that I wrote in response to Brian Klem and Zachary Petit’s Bootcamp of Writing Prompts. If you missed it, read it here. But, I didn’t have an ending! I was hoping some of you would give me your ideas, but…no such luck. So, after giving it some thought, here’s the conclusion I came to:
You know, I’m a people person–always friendly, always offering helpful advice. So, when I began receiving these little gifts, I was sure that it was somebody’s way of saying “thanks.”
I deserved it!
But when I opened that file drawer, the lid covering a box inside slid back and something leaped out at me! Swiping at its fur, I screamed as an acrid aroma wafted into the air and my eyes began to burn.
I didn’t deserve this.
Writing can be fun, but it can also be hard. J.K. Rowling says:
“The wonderful thing about writing is that there is always a blank page waiting. The terrifying thing about writing is that there is always a blank page waiting.”
But we can’t let the blank page intimidate us!
“I deal with writer’s block by lowering my expectations. I think the trouble starts when you sit down to write and imagine that you will achieve something magical and magnificent–and when you don’t, panic sets in. The solution is never to sit down and imagine that you will achieve something magical and magnificent. I write a little bit, almost every day, and if it results in two or three or (on a good day) four good paragraphs, I consider myself a lucky man. Never try to be the hare. All hail the tortoise.” Malcolm Gladwell
This wisdom gives me courage to keep writing. How about you? Stay tuned! Next week, more creative inspiration.
Isaiah 41:10, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (NIV)
So, you may have noticed, if you’re a follower of this blog, that posts have stretched farther and farther apart lately. When we started this journey I was full of ideas! They flowed like a river, onto the page and out to your electronic devices. Granted, over the past two years, there have been some interruptions to this flow, but for the most part I have been able to find inspiration almost everywhere! Then came January 2019! This year has brought many changes—mostly positive—but it seems that I lost my footing. Somehow, I drifted off the path and away from the destination that I intended.
So, it’s time to bring it back! Books & Coffee is for writers and creative people, like you, looking for inspiration, tips and tools for maintaining your creative flow. But, even those of you who wouldn’t call yourself “writers” can identify with striving for something that is elusive—whatever it is you associate with success. For writers, it’s a book deal or publication, for others it’s just having your hard work recognized and valued. Whatever your gift, you long for the fulfillment of putting it to use and doing it well, yet sometimes struggle with both.
I get it! That’s why we’re here—to work through those difficulties
and celebrate the successes.
With that goal in mind, today—and for the next few weeks—we’re going to tackle one enemy that is familiar to all writers—WRITERS BLOCK! Some say it’s an imaginary foe, but anyone who’s struggled with something knows it’s a thing when it keeps you from attaining your goal, even if–perhaps, especially if–it’s all in your mind!
But we’re not letting this one hold us anymore. Maybe your captor isn’t Writer’s Block, it doesn’t matter. You will discover that writing in and of itself is a powerful weapon. Want to give it a try? Here’s what you do:
Put your butt in a chair
Put your fingers on a keyboard (or, if your old school, grab a pen and paper!).
Write a letter breaking up with Writer’s Block (or whatever “it” is). Start with, “Dear _______, it’s not you, it’s me …”.
Dear Writer’s Block,
It’s not you, it’s me:
I’ve allowed you to control me. I’ve allowed you to make me feel inadequate. I’ve allowed you to tell me I can’t.
But no more. I will not allow you to hurt me, hold me or tell me I’m nothing. You will no longer have the control over me that you once had, because I have been weak in the past, but I’m strong now. I’ve learned how to defeat you. I’ve been thinking about you and fretting over you all these weeks and months, but I have finally realized I don’t have to. In fact, focusing on you is what has kept me bound! Instead, I’m going to focus on me. And instead of looking at myself through your eyes, I am looking at myself through the lens of my Creator. You say I’m nobody, He says I’m somebody. He says I can be so much stronger than I am if I just walk away from you. It has been hard, because you’re very persuasive, but this is it! This is me taking the first step away…
Away from abuse Away from turmoil Away from defeat
I can do this. I can be what I was created to be as long as I stay away from you.
So, peace out.
What do you need to break up with? Write it in your journal or on a sheet of paper that you will tear into a million little pieces. It’s up to you. Just do it!
Maybe your break-up will inspire someone else to walk away from an unhealthy situation, share your break-up letter in the comments!
Next week: What would you do if someone started leaving little gifts on your desk every day? Come back next week and we’ll see if we can unlock the mystery!
Until next time, Happy Writing!
“Breaking up with Writer’s Block” from Brian Klems and Zachary Petit’s Bootcamp of Writing Prompts
Marrying an even-tempered man had its advantages, but sometimes it made her crazy! Although they rarely argued, Janet often felt like she was going through her emotional experiences all alone–with someone who wasn’t affected by them. Mark saw change as mere, matter-of-fact occurrences unworthy of comment or discussion. What, then, should Janet do with her comments and expressions? So often she wanted to express herself, but found that when she did the people in her house—not just her husband, but her children too—looked at her with puzzled, annoyed or amused expressions and shook their heads. As if to say, “here goes crazy mom again,” overreacting as usual.
Nevermind that so many changes in her life were happening so fast and she didn’t like them, but Mark seemed unphased. No matter how she tried, she couldn’t get him to join her in the amazement.
“Look at these pictures from 20 years ago!” She would exclaim. “Look how young everyone was!”
“Oh my gosh, can you believe our daughter’s going to college already!”
Barely a blip on the radar.
“Wow, it seems like just yesterday we brought our baby home from the hospital, now look he’s almost taller than me!”
Janet’s a writer. Mark’s a scientist. For Janet, these important life changes are intertwined with her creative work and an important part of how she processes everything that is going on around her. So, when she writes something she’s especially proud of, she naturally wants to share it with her family. Of course, her family is politely supportive, but, when you’re the creative and emotional one who sees the world in metaphor and they’re the logical, matter-of-fact types who see everything in black and white, once the creative piece you’re sharing extends beyond a couple of sentences, a glassy look comes into their eyes and there’s a sound of birds chirping in the distance. The chirping stops, abruptly, when she gets to the last sentence, and, of course, everyone smiles politely and says “that was very good,” and she’s appeased, but empty, because she and they know what’s true.
It’s a lonely life.
You’re emotional. You feel things deeply. You “read” the world and people like a book and think about life and seasons in ways that others don’t. When you try to talk about those things, people look at you and listen, but they don’t really see you or hear. When conversations begin and you join in, they stop, or shift, or shut down, because you bring an entirely new perspective that no one thought of, or considered. They move on and leave you with your thoughts, unengaged.
It’s just our lot as creative thinkers.
But, maybe there are others who are like us who can appreciate the significance of the change happening all around, who will “oh my gosh” and “wow” and “amen” along side us while digging into the deeper meanings of those experiences and help us process them. It is not strange that we should need this, even if those around us do not. It is not strange that we should desire to discuss and write about and display our emotions in response to the world we experience, even if spouses do not. But, what we need is a space to do so that is free from the disparaging gaze of those who don’t understand, because the disapproving eye has so much power over the soul. Their disinterest makes us second-guess ourselves and their wrinkled brow squelches our light.
We will inevitably live and/or work with those who function outside of our mental space. But, perhaps it will stretch us in some way, make us work harder, think more…it will certainly give us something to write about.
Yet, in order to do our work, we must sneak away…for the sake of our souls, we must find a safe space, maybe even a secret place…and, if we can, a like-minded group. Forget about the people in your house! They might love you, but that doesn’t mean they’re good for your writing life. Find a writer’s group—even one online! But you mustn’t let go of your pen.
Shhh, even if we have to keep it secret, whatever we do, we’ll keep writing!