Writing Through Walls
A while back I wrote an essay about how I feel ‘writer’s block’ is a real thing. I told my stories of what has stopped me from writing over the years and I would love to say this article forever-cured my writer’s block. But it didn’t. And I honestly don’t know if I will ever be cured from writer’s block but I’m not going to worry about that or justify times when I can’t get it together to write.
First, I have never really had ‘ideal’ conditions to write in. Oh, I’ve had rooms of my own but my time hasn’t always been all my own. I’ve lived on my own for close to eighteen years but in those years I’ve worked demanding jobs with long hours, was a caregiver to my father until he passed away, and I have dealt with physical issues that have kept me from writing. I have freely admitted I can’t always write under stress or when I’m exhausted. That’s not whining or complaining to me but just a fact of my life.
But over the last few years, I’ve realized a wall can come up and stop me from writing. And over the years, I’ve had to figure out what those walls were and how to work through them.
In the Fall of 2016, I conceived two writing projects, both of them book-length non-fiction that I had never attempted before. The first was simply labeled, ‘Untitled Self-Help/Memoire Hybrid’ and the other ‘Untitled Political Book’. The premise for both was that I would use writing to figure out why I thought and felt like I did about myself and the world around me. What I didn’t know then, and what no one could have known, was this would involve a dive in the deepest, and most painful parts of my psyche. It would involve working through emotions and thoughts about things I had boxed up and not dealt with until these past few years. This is by the far the hardest thing I’ve ever done but I’m glad I did it. Writing about it though… well, that’s been the hard part.
Talking about this is hard, too because I have heard this could be seen as whining or complaining. I’m not blaming anyone or anything for my problems and difficulties and therefore I don’t see how talking about not being able to write is a form of whining or complaining. I don’t need ‘ideal conditions’ or anything else. I need to work through the walls that still come up for me, and probably will continue to come up for me for the rest of my life.
These walls can feel like huge blocks of brick or cement or some other hard and impenetrable material. And you may think you can blast your way through them or walk away from them and do something else instead. I’m not going to fault anyone who does that but that’s not how I write.
This past week a wall came up that stopped me from writing until this piece. I was trying to write a blog-series about past and present events and I just felt like my writing was not where I wanted it to be. So I took a step back and stared at the wall in front of me until I could see the words there. Those words were: we weren’t having the conversations back then like we are now. Because my non-fiction involves my past, I didn’t want to just write it as a contrast of past to present. I needed some sort of context, or framework to explain what I’m writing and why I’m writing this. I don’t feel like this was wasted time either as I’m not on any deadline nor do I feel like I have to justify the way I do things.
I’m writing this piece to any writer who has felt any kind of pressure to write despite facing a wall. I want to tell those writers it’s okay to stop and stare at that wall until you see the words you’re looking for. This isn’t about perfection. It’s about finding the words that you need to write the way you want to. I’ve always writing is mostly instinct and I think the time spent staring at the walls is one way of honing that instinct.
For me, it’s not about writing under less-than-ideal conditions, or just pushing through no matter what. I think for some writers walls do come up because I feel writing is a journey. And when you come to a wall you don’t need to blast through it or find a way over it or around it. Instead, you can look at until you see the words you may not even know you’ve been looking for. But once you find them, the wall will go away and you’ll be able to move forward and write again… even if you keep coming to walls.
Michele Sayre is a writer, blogger, and observer of like as well as an admin for Writers Unite!Read More of Michele’s Observations on Writing and Life Here
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