writer's block, emotions, living, improvement

The Main Reason I’ve Suffered from Writer’s Block in the Past

With all that’s been written over the years about writer’s block—what it is, why it is, how to overcome it—I have found one thing that seems to kill off my creative juices more than anything…

 

My emotions.

 

***

When I started writing my first book, 12 chapters into the rough draft, I had someone close to me look it over.

“You have NO business writing. This isn’t right, and you’re not right!” This person exclaimed. And, yes, the No was emphasized.

My friend’s statement and the way it was delivered, absolutely crushed me.

I had no idea at the time that my friend was dealing with some deep issues that my fictional book brought up.

But, deep-rooted issues aside, their statement effected me so much that I stopped writing completely for almost 8 months.

For some miraculous reason, I didn’t throw out my rough draft but kept it saved in a file, tucked away on my desktop.

***

Later, once I got over myself, I finally finished my rough draft. During the editing portion, I went through a divorce and had a death in the family within months of each other.

Mentally and emotionally, I was a mess. Except for daily entries in my journal—to help keep my sanity—I stopped production on the book for several months.

***

Nearly a year later, I was in the process of editing my book again (last pass before shipping it off to an editor) when I got involved with someone. In a very short time, I gave up my self-esteem and everything else to the relationship.

The person I surrendered to used me and lied throughout our relationship. She even admitted that she had done so, blaming confusion with life on her part.

I had given up my self-esteem to someone else and had ignored all the warning signs, thinking I was different and that heartache, being lied to, and being discarded like a dirty rag was something that couldn’t happen to me.

I learned some valuable lessons then from that dark detour about myself, relationships, and my unhealthy views on life in general.

But, I also stopped writing again for several months during that time.

***

In Og Madino’s book, The Greatest Salesman in the World, the 7th Scroll that the protagonist, Hafid, needed to study, commit to memory, and place into a daily practice was this: ‘…I will be the master of my emotions.”

Some would argue that it’s just a fictional book.

I will argue that fiction makes more impact in our lives than we give credit for.

Concepts and ideas from fictional works can speak to us deeply and even change our lives.

Take a look at Tolkien’s work from Lord of the Rings for example. You’ll see the phrase, Not all those who wander are lost, plastered on everything from tire covers on Jeeps to stickers on notebooks.

The saying turned into a cult following, and people rallied behind that phrase to turn it into a battle cry to get out and live a more adventurous life.

It also caught the greedy eye of marketers. Advertisers to this day still make money off its merchandise.

Back to Og’s book…

In order for Hafid to become the greatest salesman in the world, he needed to practice daily, mastering his emotions.

This has been a struggle my whole life.

Especially in the anger department. The depression department. The lack of self-confidence, self-esteem, and every other self-department.

It’s been exhausting.

***

Along the way, I’ve noticed something.

It’s not so much writer’s block from sitting in front of a blank screen, it’s been the emotional health, or lack thereof, that has taken a toll on my writing over time.

I published my first book almost a year ago now. Since then, I’ve written and published a non-fiction book, and am currently working on the second book in the series that the first book I wrote kicked off.

In the process, I’ve focused more and more on making sure that my emotional health is, well, healthy.

Here are a few things I do that have boosted my emotional health…

  • I don’t hang out with those who are incessantly complaining about someone, or something—never a good thing to say, never a good report to give. This is different than helping a friend out who is going through a tough gig in life!
  • I do NOT farm out my emotions to any one now. I have finally decided—unfortunately, it took me most of my life to figure out—that I don’t need any one person to make me happy. I don’t need someone else to make me feel good about myself.
  • I stopped being around those, including family members, who are dismissive, disrespectful, and demeaning of my life or the decisions I’ve made in life. Our lives are unique in that we all need to figure out the path to travel on. I have found nothing but confusion, frustration, and emotional brokenness when I’ve tried to live according to someone else’s expectations.
  • I have begun to give my mind more positive and fruitful things to think on. For me, I usually try to memorize a scriptural verse for the day. If we don’t give our minds something worthy to chew on, it’ll run rabid with no rhyme or reason on its own, which in turn wreaks havoc on our emotions.
  • Being more mindful about my thoughts, what triggers certain thoughts, and working on bringing my thoughts back to the moment. This could be grouped with the above point, but it does merit its own attention. By not allowing myself to daydream on conversations not happened, past hurts, or future catastrophes, if find the day goes by more peacefully.
  • Grateful. When I feel the tinge of bitterness, depression, relational anxiety, I catch myself and think about what I’m grateful for today. No matter how small it is, there’s always something I can be grateful for, and every time, it helps me gain a hold on my emotions from tanking through the floor.

***

Negative emotions don’t just slam writing into the trash, it kills just about anything creative in our lives.

And, you may not be a writer. You don’t have to be.

Focusing on emotional health will transform the quality of your life.


Photo from Pixabay

Posted by Christian Martin Jr.