Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Stuck, aka Author vs Writer's Block round 4,672!

It has been several days and I am struggling to write pretty much anything. I have this thing where I have to write something every day. If I don't do it, I get cranky and generally unpleasant to be around. I am pretty sure it is something to do with how writing helps me manage my problems with anxiety and such. Still, writer's block happens from time to time. It appears that after the writing fest of NaNoWriMo, my old nemesis has arrived to rain on my parade.

I suspect it is because I have been sliding into another depressive episode. I don't like it when my Bipolar gets in the way of the rest of my life. This makes so very many things difficult. I keep trying to press forward despite it but sometimes I find myself feeling discouraged and hopeless. At the moment, I am struggling with that feeling. I suppose acknowledging that I am struggling is a step towards resolving the problems created. At the same time, I feel like nothing good is going to come from this.

Now, you, my dear Reader, may question why I am making this revelation. To be honest, I am not entirely sure myself. I sat down intending to state that I am attempting to resolve a bit of writer's block and it turned into something more. Some of you may be struggling with writer's block right now also. Some of you may have another sort of creative block. Or perhaps you are feeling like your work is not good enough to see the light of day. Gods know I struggle with that one on a daily basis as well.

I know, however, that persistence is key to overcoming this kind of slump. Sometimes the question of what we personally view as quality output needs to be set on the back burner. At times, we just need to focus on producing something. Several people who I have read that wrote about the creative process cal this type of activity despite the pull of inertia things like 'priming the pump' or 'chopping wood and carrying water.' It is a practice of determination and discipline.

Even though I feel like the work I am producing right now is utter garbage, I continue to write. I just don't post it here (or on any of my other blogs) because I have very low confidence in it. Usually, when this kind of thing strikes, my writing goes off-line and my hands get writer's cramp from the volume of paper journaling I do. The nice thing about keeping an old fashioned journal is that I can put it somewhere private where no one sees it unless I want them to. That kind of privacy makes it easier for me to give myself permission to write poorly.

That is the other half of overcoming writer's block. Allowing yourself to produce work that doesn't meet your typical standard feels counter-intuitive. Or at least it does for me. (I am something of a perfectionist, so this is something I struggle with in pretty much all areas of my life.) Producing what you feel is 'bad work' somewhere that you can control access to it makes the act of producing it easier. You don't get as much of an opportunity to be anxious over someone judging it because you are the only one who sees it.

Lowering standards of performance is very hard to do for me. It may be for you as well. Something that my therapist taught me was that the temporary relaxation of high standards leads to a better ability to meet said standards at other times. I thought it sounded somewhat weird until I gave it a try. I still struggle with the feeling that every word must be a perfectly crafted thing with all the emotional nuances and shades of a masterful tone poem from Liszt or another composer of legendary stature. It is not fun to fight myself on these things.

My therapist has asked me why I continue to write when I feel like I shouldn't and when I don't feel like it is fun. It really throws her for a loop when I say that I have to do it because it is what I am. Writing is as much a part of my identity as the color of my hair, my favorite food, or my ability to mess up telling a joke nine times out of ten attempts. Some days, I don't like myself. I look in the mirror and I feel awful about what I see there. I have problems getting things done and I feel like I am the village idiot for having those difficulties. It is something that happens but those struggles don't change the fact that I am what and who I am.

I write because I am a writer. Writer's block, depression, anxiety, or any number of other hindrances to getting the words on the page doesn't change the fact that I feel that I must do it. It doesn't change the fact that I still have worlds inside my head that I want to put on paper before I depart this one. My work on a few days being poor doesn't make the rest of it bad. It just means that it is something I need to improve with some editing.

And, honestly, that is ok.

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