I’ve been struggling with writer’s block for some time. I have been tossing around an idea for a blog series I think would be funny and real and ultimately helpful to some of our population, but just haven’t been able to bring myself to write anything. Not even a sentence. Claiming I don’t have enough time to write and brandishing my fist, I yell into the void, “I need more !”
I recently wrote to a fellow writer friend and listed off for him some things about his writing and writing in general. One of these was, “Write every day.” And yet I haven’t been able to follow my own advice…hmmm.
I’m currently training for my second half marathon. If you were to look at my life – my day-to-day schedule – you’d think, “How do you have time to train?” Trust me, I think it every day. And truthfully, I don’t, really. But I make time. I wake up at 4:30 in the morning to get a run in before work. I sneak in a run late after the kids go to bed. I meet my training partner at ungodly hours for our long runs so they don’t interfere with our family weekend plans. I power through a monotonous treadmill run at the gym at my office. I know I need to train in order to finish the race at all, let alone improve. I want to train. So I make the time for it.
Why haven’t I made time for writing? I want to write. I feel I have something worthwhile to say. But it’s such a process, I really don’t have the time/energy/again-any-excuse-will-do.
While listening to the infinitely funny and intelligent comedian Jim Carrey, he said this: “So many of us choose our path out of fear disguised as practicality.”
It dawned on me that it isn’t writer’s block at all. It isn’t that it’s not practical for me to spend my free time on writing. It’s fear. I don’t have a ton of free time, this is true. But if I really want to write, I will make the time, just like I do for training. But I’m scared. Scared of putting my shortcomings in writing. Worrying that writing down these obstacles and lessons will somehow allow them to keep creeping back in my way and I won’t have the resilience or strength to overcome them. Again.
What if you actually hate what I write? What if I am a giant fraud because even after all this time of writing you on a purported fitness blog, I am still, STILL, the same weight I was a year ago? Why can’t I conquer that last 30 pounds? Why can’t I finish what I started? Why do I keep cyclically falling off my healthy food wagon? Why isn’t what I’m doing enough? Why am I not enough? What am I so afraid of?
“Fear is writing that script. And the working title is, ‘I Will Never Be Enough’.” – Jim Carrey (Seriously, the guy is brilliant.)
Brené Brown writes in her book, Daring Greatly, that we do this to ourselves. We wake up first thing in the morning with an inner dialogue of all the ways we’ve already failed. She writes, “Before we even sit up in bed, before our feet touch the floor, we’re already inadequate, already behind, already losing, already lacking something. And by the time we go to bed at night, our minds race with a litany of what we didn’t get, or didn’t get done, that day. We go to sleep burdened by those thoughts and wake up to the reverie of lack…What begins as a simple expression of the hurried life, or even the challenged life, grows into the great justification for an unfulfilled life.” (Smart people listen to people smarter than them, and Ms. Brown is MENSA smart. If you have 18 minutes, you should watch this.)
I mean…just…right? An unfulfilled life. Nailed it, Brené. You freaking nailed it. I know what fills me with the most light and love. Running, playing volleyball, spending time with my children and husband, book club with my sisters, dinner with my parents, coffee with friends, reading, writing…I do love the writing. Sometimes it’s like what you hear about, where the words just flow out of me and I have no idea where they came from. Some divine source or muse is filling me up and I have to get it out or I’ll burst. Sometimes I’ll read something back and say to myself, “Did I just write that? Wow.” (Small figurative pat on the back.) And then immediately I feel shameful because, “Isn’t that haughty of me to think my writing was good? How narcissistic am I for enjoying something I created? How dare I?”
But isn’t that the point? We create things for others to enjoy. Should we not enjoy them ourselves? I always feel better after I write. Like a sweaty workout, I just feel more alive after that brain dump, even if it never sees the light of the interwebs. And I work so hard at my writing because I want you, dear reader, to enjoy it. I want you to relate. I want to be there for you and tell you you’re not alone. I write it and edit it and read it and cut and paste and add and delete and proofread, proofread, proofread, and hours go by before it’s finally ready for you. And I so look forward to what you’ll say. I am so happy to have shared something with you. So why do I continue to let fear be in the driver’s seat?
“You can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.” – Jim Carrey (Resident genius)
OK, Mr. Carrey. Challenge accepted. I will work my hardest to write every day, but I will not be upset with myself if I don’t. I will do my best to post at least one original piece a week on this blog, but I will have confidence the readers won’t throw me to the wolves if I don’t. I will trust in the knowledge that even if only one person reads my words, I shared a part of myself. And that, my dear reader, is worth the risk of it all.
With love and gratitude,