I awoke yesterday morning with one mission in my mind: write an article. My deadline was midnight, so I had plenty of time. I knew my topic, or at least the overall theme of my topic. However, when I placed my fingers on the keyboard, no words accompanied them. I didn’t freak out, this has happened many times (commonly at the most unfortunate of moments). I took deep yoga breaths, stretched, ate some breakfast, and then sat down to give it another go. Still, nothing came out.
I’m a writer, so writer’s block and I have gotten pretty intimate in the past. Yesterday, I decided I’d outsmart him. Like the good student I am, I raised my hand and asked a few of my colleagues for their opinion on my topic. Like always, they flooded me with feedback. Great feedback, at that! They offered various perspectives and insight. After I read through it all, I did my mock-Rocky warm up, “Eye of the Tiger” and all, and headed back to my computer. I bitch-slapped my fingers onto the keyboard and then . . . unfortunately, they bitch-slapped me right back with their failure to produce words.
By 3 pm, I had 112 words. My freak out had begun. I’m a notorious planner. I try to plan every aspect of my life. When I buy a new shirt, I’m planning what shoes I’ll wear with it, before I even make the purchase. People often associate planning with being a strong attribute; they’re either lying or I’m the exception. Planning has always caused me trouble. It’s a control issue (I’m well aware). Regrettably, as a writer, planning isn’t part of the deal. Success, readership, writer’s block, these things aren’t planned, they just happen. I’ve tried letting go of my planning compulsion, but like most things, it’s easier said than done. So when writer’s block creeps up on me, my plan for submitting the article by late afternoon gets shot to hell. My minor freak out conjoins itself with the unpleasant feeling of being rushed, resulting in a hell of a mental storm.
Writer’s block is like a cold. You feel it approaching. I’d spent the past few weeks frivolously writing articles, reviews, and plunging head-first into my new novel. It was fabulous because everything was going according to plan. However, the past few days, I’d begun to slow, feeling the creeper approaching. I tried to ignore him. I pretended he wasn’t there. But like Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction, writer’s block “Will not be ignored.”
So by late yesterday afternoon, I sat hopelessly at my computer attempting to plunge an article out of my system, like a stubborn piece of shit. No matter what I tried: writing outside; walking the girls; showering . . . nothing helped. By 4 pm I realized: I’d lost my mojo.
Finding Your Joy
Luckily, everyone has a refresh button; you just have to find it. People find their escape in various places: exercise, music, movies, reading, television, playing with kids. Once making that escape, you’ve clicked the refresh button, and you come back clearer, brighter, and faster than before.
Being the perfectly diagnosed Aquarian child that I am, I gravitate toward water. I’m the cliché of my zodiac sign: I’m a water child, a dreamer, overly creative, I always consider the best interest of my dogs before making an important decision . . . I’m a stereotype. The water thing, though, that’s important. As a teenager when “the pressures of adolescence” felt too heavy, I’d slip away and drive the curvy road out to Lower Brush Creek and sunbathe on the hood of my car. Something about the water moving around me left me feeling refreshed.
Now during a full writing day, I shower at least three times. It’s not an O.C.D. cleanliness thing; I just see the world clearer through the water. Last summer, I wrote poolside knowing one day would guarantee me thousands of words. And during my most challenging battles with writer’s block, when the s.o.b. would linger for weeks, I visited the mothership: the ocean and it would just float away.
Yesterday evening, as the ticking clock grew louder, I finally realized it’d been awhile since I’d hit my refresh button. I got in the car and ventured out on a road trip (twenty-some miles) to the beach. Road trips have a certain stigma attached to them, just saying the word is exciting. My mind associates road trips with adventure and freedom. The great thing about a road trip is if you play the right jams, and get the wind parading through your hair, a trip to the grocery can feel like a road trip. And it may just be the best damn road trip you’ve ever taken.
Everyone has a refresh button, maybe you’ve found it, maybe you’re still looking for it. Finding your refresh button requires getting to know yourself and understanding what brings you joy. Once you’ve found it, never underestimate it. This button can be the key to your sanity. If I sit on the beach and close my eyes for a few moments, the waves take all the stress, worries, and insecurities back out with them. I’ve always been a person who gravitates toward the water. I didn’t always understand why I did, but I knew it was “my thing.” Water is my drug and when I fall off the writing wagon, I drive down the road and get my fix. It refreshes me with hope, possibility, creativity, and imagination.
Last night after watching the sunset on the beach, I came home and wrote my article. As it turns out all I needed was a quick refreshing.
Stay refreshed, my friends✌