As a self-proclaimed writer since age eight, I’m no stranger to writer’s block. After changing my course of study from Chemistry to English and Creative Writing, I quickly realized all I had done was trade in two years of difficult equations (all of which had a defined answer) for two years of a different type of equation, one which has no defined answer whatsoever: Writer + Medium = ?
I went through numerous bouts of writer’s block in my two glorious years as an English and Creative Writing major, yet whenever I did, I was surrounded by my respected peers (all fellow writers) and revered professors (all writing geniuses, at least in my book – pun intended). Writer’s block plagued us all at one time or another throughout the semester, and we were all there for each other when the words weren’t.
Fast forward three years, and here I am. Once a writer, always a writer. Just about a year ago I made another trade: I traded a string of jobs – the good, the bad, and the ugly – for a full time career as a writer. In that time I’ve quickly realized that being a freelancer and blogger is very different than being a writing student. Full disclosure: being a freelancer and blogger is one of the most isolating things I’ve ever done. Sure, I talk to clients over email, phone, Skype, and Google+ Hangouts almost every day. Sure I interact with other bloggers over social media and try to attend blogging events as much as I can. But on most days, it’s just me, my computer, and my words.
Sadly, despite the fact I’m in my mid twenties and on the cusp of a generation that’s nearly 100% digital, I still prefer to write – yes write with pencil and paper – in a notebook. When writer’s block starts creeping up, my pencil and notebook is typically the first place I turn. My eight year old self kicks in, and my ideas free flow more organically from brain to hand to pencil to page.
When that doesn’t work, I start pounding through all the old standbys: read, draw, color, walk away, take a walk. And when all else fails I just don’t write. Now, let’s back up a minute “I just don’t write” is a bit of a hyperbole. I write everyday – somewhere, somehow – that’s my job. But the writer in me – not the freelancer, not the blogger, the writer – can’t “just write” for the sake of writing. I remember a Pilates session I had a while back where my instructor and longtime friend Denise Posnak of MyBOD Wellness (shameless plug) shared that she and another client had been talking about the Nike slogan “Just Do It.” Long story short, they determined this slogan is really sending the wrong message – do we all want to go through our lives “just doing” things? So we proceeded through our Pilates session not “just doing” the exercises but doing them with intention. Intent. This is the element that begins and defines a true piece of writing.
I still haven’t discovered the cure to finding intent when all seems lost, but I think discovering that intention is the foundation for any piece of writing is a good start. You may have noticed I haven’t been posting with the same frequency as of late. You also may have guessed that a severe case of writer’s block is what inspired this post. Writing is a strange art. I have an arsenal of post ideas scribbled in notebooks, archived in notes on my phone, saved on my bookmarks bar, but without that defined intent, the ideas fall flat.
Every good writer knows the process ebbs and flows. Writer’s block will pass. The ability to define intention will be restored. The good news is the coming weeks have a lot in store. I’ll be taking a short vacation from the blog early in July for a work trip and a friend’s wedding, which should bring a refreshed and renewed perspective. I also have several exciting collaborative posts in the works, so bear with me through this writer’s block and stay tuned! Happy Monday, readers!