Some of us were born with the blessed knowledge that we would be writers when we grew up. What we may not have been aware of in our childhood innocence where inspiration could be found in the sand pit or beneath the drapes of a blanket fort, was the soul-consuming, black horror of writer’s block.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say every writer has experienced it at some point in their lives. Call it procrastination. Call it avoidance. Call it I-need-to-focus-on-my-real-career-instead-of-this-waste-of-time-writing. It all comes down to the same thing; your writer’s heart has been blocked.
I was frequently blocked. My own special form of writer’s block was the latter in the above list and perhaps the most devastating to the fragile writer’s heart. Although I adored writing, I told myself I couldn’t make a career out of it, so I put it away with the other proverbial pies in the sky to focus on a real career. A fine theory but ultimately a flawed one. After a year or two in this job or that I would get itchy feet… no, make that itchy fingers. I needed to write! I would satisfy the itch writing fanfiction, messing about with novels or even sneaking writing into my career in the form of corporate writing. But, like calamine lotion, this served to suppress the itch but not cure the underlying condition causing the itch, the blockage.
I have always been one for motivation and inspirational messages. I have a beautiful quote on my wall by Rumi –
Far from driving me to cure the blockage, looking at this quote every day served only to make me more miserable. It was like a gut-punch every time I looked at it, taunting me, mocking me, reminding me that I was, in fact, not following that which I truly loved.
So came the cycle; work, misery, depression, inability to write, work, misery, depression, inability to write ad nausea. I became a metaphorical high-functioning zombie. Living life but not loving life. And the depression deepened. It consumed me and my mental health plummeted until I began scouring Pinterest for posts about the pointlessness of it all. I didn’t have to look far –
I collected a few of these pins and when I looked back at what I’d collected it hit me, like a thunderbolt from God: I was living a life not meant for me, and I was slowly killing myself doing it. My blockage was no longer simply hindering my writing, it was endangering my life.
It had to end.
The very next day I began researching freelance writing.
I knew (and know) it would be a difficult slog to try and make it as a freelance writer. I knew (and know) my comfortable life might be affected by a more than likely decrease in income. But I also knew (and know) that I am now living my life. I am being true to my writer’s heart and the blockage is crumbling.
…and in the end it was not inspiration that motivated me, it was depression.
*I would love to hear if any of you have had similar experiences with depression or have your own ways of reconciling the need to write with the reality of living.
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