Sadie Holloway is a writer and artist who uses the power of journaling to bring more peace, serenity, and joy into her life.
From time to time, writers -- even the most prolific ones -- find themselves up against a wall, unable to take their story or article to completion. If you've ever experienced writer's block, it can feel daunting, especially if you're new to the world of freelance writing. It can be especially terrifying if your writer's block has been so long that you feel like you've lost your passion for writing. You want to fall in love with writing again, but you don't know how.
Falling in love with writing again, or any hobby or creative endeavor that has run up against a wall, takes plenty of gentle self-care and patience.
Get in touch with your body before you begin writing.
Ask yourself Where do I feel the story in my body? In your heart as it races to write down what happens next for the main figure in your story? Your eyes as they water up with an unexpected sense of joy? Your stomach as it twists in a knot imagining the character (fictional or non-fictional) facing down an enemy? Your clenched jaw as you feel anger over an act of injustice the subject of your article is experiencing?
People say that you should write from the heart. But in order to do that sometimes you need to start with your jaw, the hair on the back of your neck, your shoulders, even your toes that wiggle unconsciously while you think about your character's fun and quirky personality traits. Ask yourself where the story has taken up residence in your body. Then write from that place.
Focus on the big picture.
Writer’s block is sometimes nothing more than not knowing where you are going. It’s like standing on a busy street corner, not having the foggiest idea where, or worse, what, your destination is and then simply giving up and not moving. How do you get beyond that feeling of being lost? You ask people for directions and you start taking notes; you draw a map; you start moving; you find your landmarks one at a time, until eventually you get to your destination.
Instead of sitting down and trying to write, why not start by making lists: lists of character traits, lists of the places you want to explore in your story, lists of plot points. Don’t write sentences, just notes. Spend the whole morning making lists if you want to. You may not use any of the items on list in any of your stories, but you will have kept your mind occupied and kept self-doubt from distracting you from your goal.
There is little success where there is little laughter.
— Andrew Carnegie
Laugh a little.
Try, for just a little while, not to take yourself, or your writing so seriously. It's hard to fall in love with anyone, or anything, when you can't laugh and have fun.
Not everyone can be a stand-up comedian spinning out witty one-liners in front of an audience. Nor can everyone be successful humor writers live Dave Barry, David Sedaris or Stephen Leacock. But everyone does have the capacity to see the humor in life’s most seemingly banal moments.
If you have the capacity to cultivate a positive outlook, then finding the humor in life’s ups and downs will come naturally to you. Laughter is one of the most soothing emotions we have. Picture Julia Child on her famous show the Joy of Cooking. She was a pleasure to watch because she could laugh at herself even when something didn't work out. She was absolutely unflappable and it was her ability to not take herself too seriously that made her so well-loved.
Seek progress, not perfection.
You will know you've fallen in love with writing again when you're working at your desk and time stands still. The day goes by and you look up and realize that it’s now almost time for dinner. As you finish up your last sentence, you have an overwhelming sense of satisfaction that you accomplished something important today. You can end the day knowing that even if your work isn’t finished you still made progress, step by step.
To evoke your writing spirit, check out this book by one of my favorite writers/muses: The Right to Write by Julia Cameron. Reading Julia Cameron a few years ago saved my writing life from the edge of oblivion.
© 2017 Sadie Holloway