Several weeks ago, I signed up for Roxane Gay’s newsletter The Audacity. In the “About” section, she talks about how she used to keep “an obscure little blog” for years, and that’s where she learned how to tell a story.
I don’t usually think of blogging as improving my writing. I don’t put enough work into it. I have no idea how much work Dr. Gay put into her blog, but maybe a person can improve their writing without a lot of concerted effort, like cross-training at the gym to become a better dancer. Even if they aren’t going all out, they’ll still see benefits.
Blogging taught me how not to be afraid of a blank screen; the same with journaling and a blank notebook.
I don’t suffer from writer’s block, or if I do, it’s quite rare. When I find myself struggling to write, even in a private notebook, it’s because I’m either emotionally blocked or intellectually drained.
Over the years, I’ve addressed emotional blockage in a lot of ways. The first time I did this, I was young, maybe 11 or 12, and I went for a long walk alone in the woods and spoke out loud to myself until I felt better. I was a surprisingly chatty child, actually, so that was easy for me. Once I started journaling, that served the same purpose. I suppose it worked in the same way that morning pages from The Artist’s Way also work for a lot of people.
Now, on top of that, I practice various forms of meditation. Over the years, I’ve gotten really good at cultivating my thoughts, but there are times when that just doesn’t work. I’m able to force myself to think, “I’m so grateful for X and Y!” And, sometimes it works, but there are other times when positive thinking turns into a harmful self-delusion that feels worse than just honestly thinking to myself, “my life sucks.”
Looking at my experiences from a somatic perspective has helped me with that. There are a lot of various resources for that these days because it’s so easy. Lately, my favorite is a woman named Sukie Baxter on youtube. She recently put out a video called “Do Thoughts Create Feelings?”
So, what about being drained? When I say “drained,” I don’t mean I’m tired. I mean that I’ve run out of stuff to say. When I exhaust my output mode, I switch to input mode: I read.
If I feel guilty about reading instead of writing, I remind myself to just chill out. In nearly every single interview that I’ve read, seen, or heard with a successful writer, their first advice to aspiring writers is to read a lot.
Also, just today, I read an article about how reading rewires your brain. I believe it. The things I read always inspire me. They might not inspire me immediately, but, eventually, I’ll become inspired, even if it’s just to write in my journal about what I thought about something I’ve read.
Oh, and if you’re actually tired? Get more rest. Set up some boundaries. Duh.
Anyway, A few days after my last post, I heard back from my friend. She said that she loves my article and that it will be published on March 1.
Of course, I made the mistake of re-reading it, and I saw something that I wanted to change. This is what I get for sending it off without one last read-through. I emailed her back and asked if she would make that change, but she hasn’t responded, yet. If she doesn’t change it, I’ll live.