Why can’t I write?

Writing as a person who has a “day job.” I’m not an entrepreneur, I’m not a business person. I can’t afford to just write and make money off of my writing. I have zero expectations that writing will make me financially stable. But writing isn’t a hobby for me, writing keeps me alive. Writing gives me the strength to go outside my apartment and exist as a human being in a society filled with other human beings. Sometimes being human is scary.

But I’ve found, more harshly than previous bouts of writer’s block, in the last few months I haven’t been able to write. I haven’t found myself capable of putting the ideas forming in my brain onto the page. I have several works in progress and several ideas for how to make them awesome but when I turn on my iPad to write I can’t make the words happen.

So what do I do?

When I can’t write my books I want to write anyway so I want to try journaling. Why can’t I write? Experimenting with a lack of focus. Just do it. I feel like there is nothing to do when I KNOW that there are a lot of things to do. What is writer’s block? What causes this feeling of NOTHING? Is it stress? Is it a starving muse? Do I need to separate myself into pieces and step into each piece like a favorite t-shirt or an uncomfortable uniform? Should there be a writing Jess who doesn’t care about the work day/doesn’t exist in the work day and a working Jess who has to suffer through all the tension and anxiety of making money so writing Jess can write and ignore all the unpleasant things? I don’t think that’s the right way to go. I don’t think separation is healthy but I haven’t yet figured out how to explore healthy ways of writing and working.

Mental health and physical health. I have to take care of myself. On the physical side I have pain and stiff joints. Going to the gym hurts, yoga hurts, tai chi hurts. Demoralization of the body. I feel tired all the time. I’ve tried going to the doctor and finding a diagnosis but so far all the tests for all the possibilities have come back negative so there needs to be more exploration there.

On the mental side my job is stressing me out. But that’s a very broad explanation of the problem. The problem is my reaction to people and situations and no matter how much you meditate or exercise mindfulness trainings, the machines still beep and the people are still there and the endurance of dealing with an unpleasant situation is very draining.

When I get home from work all I want to do is sleep. Before I go to work, when I have a few hours in the morning where I can write, I feel paralyzed because I am afraid that if I don’t prepare myself extensively by worrying/fantasizing about everything that could go wrong and mentally preparing myself for the metaphorical end of the world I won’t be able to function when I clock in. This is not healthy, I know that, but I still do it.

Of course the answer is more meditation, more mindfulness, more reading and indulging in inspiring books and tv/movies/documentaries. And cuddling with the cats.

More thoughts about why I can’t write:

Self-doubt. If I get so stressed out that I can’t write, why do I think I can write when I’m not stressed? This is another illogical thought because I CAN write, I have written several things that make me happy. Deadline pressure? I want to get things done on my schedule, release Havoc’s Moon in October even though I need to write at least 40,000 more words and how the hell am I going to do that AND edit AND market it? Even though I am totally capable of changing my schedule it’s a goal and DAMMIT I want to meet my goal even if it’s starting to be unrealistic.

Pacing. I find outlines constricting. So I don’t help myself by just writing, there needs to be direction. I like writing sprints, doing 10-20 minutes of free writing or whatever and fitting those pieces in wherever they fit. But I have to be in the right mindset for free writing, I have to bee in the right MOOD. I’m cringing as I write this because, as Gurney Halleck (Frank Herbert, Dune) said, “You fight when necessity arises–no matter the mood! Mood’s a thing for cattle or making love or playing the baliset. It’s not for fighting.” Fighting, of course, isn’t writing but maybe it is. I feel like it is sometimes, not because my book is an enemy

(even though plots and characters can be frustrating. One of my main characters decided he wanted to be the bad guy when I was sculpting him to be one of the good guys. He was extremely adamant that no, he didn’t want to work with the other good guy, he wanted to make the other good guy’s life miserable. Thanks for that.)

but because writing is self-preservation as well as self-expression. So I need to get over my mood. How do I do that? Does it circle back around to less stress and more meditation, less worry, more money.

Just got a pang of stress looking at the clock and realizing I have just under two hours before I have to be at work. It’s okay. I’ll eat something and figure it (the anxiety) out later.

I don’t think making “things” “better” is the answer. Things=life and better=an abstraction. I think in order to be able to write I have to let myself open up to the writing, even if the next day I think it’s crap, even if the ideas aren’t going anywhere or wanting to come out.

I didn’t think I would be able to get any writing done today and yet here I have a blog post, not what I wanted to write but I still wrote something. And that is, at least, something.

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Jessica Halsey lives in Arkansas and is earning a degree in Laboratory Science while she writes many strange poems and books about werewolves and faeries. She loves birdwatching and performing venipuncture. Her spark bird is the Rose-Breasted Grosbeak and her house words are, “Is there blood on the floor?”

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