I wake up, brush my toes against the rough carpet, and grab my pink fuzzy robe off the hook. I walk to the sink, look at my eyes in the mirror, puffy with sleep, and wash my face with an exfoliating scrub. I go downstairs, and step outside, taking a big gulp of fresh air wet with rain from the night before. None of this will be documented on Instagram, filmed for Youtube, or tweeted about and I probably won’t remember this day. It’s nothing special right? Just my normal routine.
I pour milk on my cereal, listening to the crunching noise as it all mixes together, and I think about my trip to Israel last June, and my trip to Italy a couple weeks ago. I pour myself some orange juice, listen to the whooshing noise as it hits the glass, taking a big gulp with dehydration. I think of the vision board I made on Pinterest last night, heavy with goals and lavish dreams just within arms reach.
I put on my jeans, the cold, tight denim making me wince with displeasure and wishing I could stay in bed all day. I throw on a sweater because it’s the first cloudy day after two weeks of warm sunshine. I’m thinking about the articles I have to write today and the book I dream of having published.
I bike to the library, my thighs burning with exhaustion, cold wind on my cheeks sending shivers through my chest. I get a glimpse of my son, only in my memory, warm and nestled in my hands, leaving me momentarily tight in my throat.
Later on at home, I make some tea, watch Wayne Dyer and make a plan for how to start living in the present. I eat dinner with my husband, while we watch an episode of Friends on television, talking about our respective days and feeling guilty as puppy eyes beg for a potato.
I go to sleep that night, taking in the smell of the fresh sheets I just put on the bed earlier, a scent that suddenly takes me back to summers growing up in Maine.
The last couple of months, writing has felt like getting a tooth pulled by a guy hanging out in a back alley in Morocco. It has felt strange, neutral, indifferent, difficult, and insecurity has plagued my thoughts (when I actually seem to have some) and for some reason I keep comparing myself to the great Joan Didion as if my two year writing career should somehow be held up against her witty essays for Vogue. At the moment, I feel incapable of forming opinions on any topic, and my sentences feel dull, heavy, too simple.
I recently re-watched the Gilmore Girls revival and witnessing the downward spiral Rory took in her writing career was somewhat terrifying to watch as a writer myself. Even re-reading that last sentence makes me cringe. Talking about Gilmore Girls? How very millennial of me! What would Jane Austen think?
It occurred to me that I may be experiencing a bout of writer’s block and I wondered, how often are we blocked in our lives?
When Life Loses That Spark
What happens when life seems lifeless? You have zero creative thoughts, your well has dried up, you’re tapping out on the mat without even putting up a fight because what’s the point anyways? Even gossip magazines and social media don’t elicit anything from you but a shoulder shrug; no jealousy or feelings of inadequacy.
When life seems to be driving a million miles per hour on cruise control and you’re starting to feel like you’ll fall asleep at the wheel, is there anything besides a Red Bull and copious amounts of caffeine that will wake up up? And, how do you truly know when you’ve lost your spark? It’s like trying to find the one Christmas tree light that caused the whole string to go out. At one point, do you stop? A moment of clarity sweeping over your face and realize you’re just blocked?
While I was growing up in Maine, it used to get so cold in our old 1800’s house that the pipes would frequently freeze. My mom would boil some water on the stove to put in our claw foot tub so I could have a bath before school. Once or twice during those long winters, the pipes actually burst, flooding the entire basement.
All that creative energy, all that zest for life, has to be backed up somewhere within you, waiting for that moment when the pressure causes it to burst open, springing forth like a geyser. So, where is it hidden? Our minds are obviously vastly more complicated than household plumbing, and tend to need fixing more often.
Being “blocked” in life is about much more than writers block, artists block, or dreary, cloudy, weather that makes you want to stay in bed all day under a cozy duvet. It’s the fact that we’ve allowed ourselves to stay on auto-pilot for far too long, without putting in any real effort.
How can you put yourself back in the real drivers seat? Foot on the gas, wind in your hair while you speed down the highway in a fancy convertible?
1. Free writing or journaling
I mention this as a tip in just about every article, and will continue to do so. Free writing is the perfect antidote for writers who find they are having a hard time getting anything on paper or can’t seem to get past their insecurities. But, journaling or free writing is not only for those who make a career out of it.
Free writing, the simple act of getting all those thoughts swirling around your brain on paper is, other than getting some good REM sleep, the best way to figure out what you’re truly feeling.
Many times, when we feel blocked and indifferent, there is something going on beneath the surface that has yet to show itself in the light.
Supposedly, we have something like 50-60,000 thoughts per day and trying to keep track of each one is like trying to remember the lyrics to every NSYNC song; you remember the famous chorus but everything else gets a bit lost.
Writing down every thought for even one page each day can bring out feelings you didn’t know you had.
2. Be open to more possibilities
Sometimes, we can get bored of the path we’re on because we haven’t considered whether or not we want to stay there. You might have such concrete goals set out for yourself that you haven’t evaluated them, or possibly changed them.
Consider the fact that you may not have thought of other career, life, or relationship options and it may be time to have an evaluation of the various areas of your life to see how they’re going and if you need to make any changes.
3. Tune out other voices
Comparing yourself to other people, listening to every opinion but your own, and allowing other voices to be louder than your thoughts can make you feel like you’re spinning around a tornado like Dorothy. It’s easy to get so caught up in the noise that you can’t hear yourself; that quiet, small voice that is telling you who you are and what you want.
Many times, when we feel blocked, or just plain indifferent about life, it’s because we aren’t looking deep enough into our own psyche and trying to understand what may be holding us back.