There Is No Physical Block Keeping Me From Picking Up A Pen

I hate to admit it, but I haven’t taken a moment to “write” anything in a really long time. I’ve had spare half-hours, Sunday mornings, and lazy afternoons to myself and never once said: “Now would be the perfect time to whip out my notebook and crank out some prose!” Instead, I troll Twitter, add pins to Pinterest, and organize my email folders. I read a few more pages of the book on my nightstand or start a new crochet project or watch three hours of TV shows that I’ve already seen. I always put off writing. When looking back at my most recently used notebook, the last dated entry is September 2011. The one before that: July 2010.

Sure, I’ve written things in between those dates: maybe a poem here or there that is stored in some other journal, and plenty of academic papers, including an especially long research thesis on the infiltration of e-books into the publishing industry. But writing for pleasure? I skipped over it on my eight mile long to-do list and never looked back.

Now, it really freaks me out when the various facets of my life all seem to meld together and relate to one another so closely. For example, just the other day I had been agonizingly lamenting over my lack of creative writing when a new post from a blog subscription popped up into my inbox:

“…you’re staring at a blank page with your mouth open, your heart pounding, and your mind doing its best impression of a black hole. You have no good ideas. You can’t string together a single sentence. The lifeless forms of impotent words are strewn around you like so much literary roadkill. You’re suddenly sure that everything you’ve ever written is crap. The void of the stark white and oh-so-empty page starts to give you a bad case of vertigo.”
Writer’s Block Cause 1: Fear written by Jamie Lee Wallace on Live To Write – Write To Live


I immediately believed that this writer had been staring at me when forming those sentences. The blinking cursor in my Word document mocks me and the pen on my desk goes untouched for one reason, the main theme of that seemingly innocent blog post: fear. I can make endless claims that a faraway deity has my muse locked up in a cage, but that’s only being said for a false benefit. In reality, I am (at this current moment) lacking the conviction to pick up the pen and just write something, ANYTHING for fear of it not being “good enough,” even if only by my own personal red pen thrashing standards.

This discovery was not an easy one to admit. I proceeded to stare at that blog post in my email like I never wanted to receive a new message again, like it had morphed into the image of my blank Word document to mock me. But then, this paragraph came:

“The good news is that your fear comes from love. You love writing. You love story. You love your craft. Your fear mirrors the depth and intensity of your love. No wonder it’s powerful enough to strike you dumb! Your fear is just a normal reaction to your desire to protect something you care about. It’s not unusual for a stressful situation to send even the most rational of us into that fight-or-flight space. And what could be more stressful than risking the survival of something that is such a big part of who we are?”

Relief cascaded through the room and my email system took its normal form again. And then realization hit.

Being a writer is a journey. Whether for a living or as a passion, you start out somewhere and intend to branch out and bloom into a skilled scribe. There are blocks; sometimes they’re monstrous weights hanging in the air causing you to feel claustrophobic while staring at a blinking, black cursor, and sometimes they’re just the words “I’m too busy right now.” There are drawbacks: the inability to find the perfect word while leafing through the thesaurus, the harsh critique from a trusted and honest peer, a rejection letter over the submission you were really proud of. But in the end, there is a satisfaction that comes from finding the right words, even if they are for your eyes only.

This blog came to fruition for two reasons: 1. I had tried “blogging” before with no success, and wanted to amend that, and 2. I needed to write more. This blog gave me an excuse and a starting point. Hopefully, my notebook will start to feel some of the love.

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2 thoughts on “There Is No Physical Block Keeping Me From Picking Up A Pen

  1. Sarah,
    I really enjoyed reading your post – and not just because you were partially inspired by mine. ;)
    That fear is something each writer experiences. I’m glad you decided to kick it to the curb and look forward to hearing more from you here and on Twitter.

    Thanks for sharing my words and your own words.

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