Writer’s Block

There is something I have never liked to think, let alone say. But the more I think about it, the more I believe I need to say it… or, in this case, to write it down (since writing is my favorite means of expression). So here it goes: as of two or three years ago, I have been writing less and less. These are words that hurt me deeply. They feel like some sort of betrayal, as if I am turning against my own nature by not writing. But it is not as if I don’t want to write – I desperately want to, I just can’t. What I have, I think, is a writer’s block.

Writing has always been the most intimate, true part of myself. When I was younger, I told a teacher I really liked that writing was as vital to me as breathing. And it was. I was always writing; always. I wrote short stories, tales and later I started writing poems. I always aimed to write novels, books. My mother told me how I started telling stories before I could even write. She would sit down by my side and transcribe everything I said into a notebook. She told me that I used to talk so fast and non-stop that she would be baffled – but she felt even more amazed when she had finished transcribing every word I’d said while I was playing and realised that it formed a fully logical story. Well… as logical as a child’s imagination can be, anyways, or as inventive. But stories with beginning, middle and end. And as soon as I learned to write, I started writing my own stories.

For many years, writing has been an escape – a way to run away from the problems of this world. Not from my family, because I have always had a loving, supportive family. In fact, for any outsider it might look like I had a pretty priviledged childhood. But those who know me well know that I have been bullied many times when I was a child and that it has had strong, negative effects on me. During some of the worst times, I would imagine that Pegasus came to my balcony each night, as I lay in bed, and that he would take me away with him and show me the world as everybody else slept. I started taking refuge in my imaginary friends, and the worlds I wrote about were the ones I transported myself into whenever I wanted a break from reality and to be saved by fantasy. Then, I started writing stories about the real world – not my life, but stories of children in the midst of war, Nature under attack and all kinds of things that my parents showed me that were wrong in the world and that needed to be talked about. This was my way to address these subjects – writing about them – and, according to my loyal readers (mum, teachers…), I did it quite well. I am proud of the way I wrote then, I think there was a lot of beauty in my words and metaphors and scenarios and characters and dialogues. My writing felt pure, because it came from the heart and from somewhere else – somewhere deep inside me that, to this day, I still don’t really know where to find.

But a common part of my writing process was the fact that I wrote the best stuff when I was sad. It is no coincidence that I am fan of sad love stories or dramas and that I have never been a fan of comedies. Sadness can be beautiful, and it often feels real – because, in this world, there is not just laughter, not just happiness, but also a lot of pain. I believe that my most sensitive side would be awakened by sad stories – and whenever I wrote something sad (even if it ended well), words came out of me in their most beautiful form. And I think this was one of the determining factors in causing my writer’s block: two or three years ago, my life suddenly took a turn and became much happier. I found better friends at school, I started doing other things I loved (the most important of which is dance) and, overall, I no longer had that separation between a daily routine that I was somewhat afraid of and going back home to my only true refuge – my home, with my family and my computer, where I could write all I wanted (those who know me know that I was always had to write in computers because my thoughts came out too fast for me to write words down on paper with my hands, and that is why I type so fast). So I believe it was the fact that my life began to give me more opportunities to do things that made me happy that kept me from writing so much – and that eventually created this block.

The problem is… I want to write. I need to write, because it is still a part of me. I fear that it is no longer such a vital part of me that I cannot live without it. Yes, that’s probably my deepest fear – that I am no longer incapable of living without writing. It may sound strange, doesn’t it? Even paradoxical, if you consider that I usually had to feel somehow sad to write my best stuff. Does that mean that I am some sort of masochist that wants to feel sad just to be able to write? I don’t think so. What I do think is that writing has always been such a defining, crucial, intimate part of me that I feel a little exposed and lost without it. I have always been praised for my writing skills – and now I don’t seem to be capable of writing any good stuff anymore. I dreamt of writing beautiful stories, with meaning, that could bring up those matters that need to be talked about – and now I sometimes wonder if I will ever be able to do that. If I will ever get through this block.

What I think I need to tell myself and to believe is that it is in my hands to destroy this writer’s block. Like William Ernest Henley wrote in one of my favorite poems, Invictus, “I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul”. I am the captain of my soul. If I have written good stuff in the past, then I have to believe that I can do it again in the future. And this is, I think, what all writers should tell themselves when facing such a challenge.

  1. Only you can destroy your writer’s block… and you can do it with your bare hands. You need to believe in yourself, believe that you can write. If you have written before, then why wouldn’t you be capable of doing it again? Look for inspiration – life offers you a million scenarions, a million characters, a million stories. Find your own.
  2. Make time to work on it. My biggest problem is that I feel like I no longer have as much time as I used to have during my childhood and early adolescence to write. With college, dance, and all other things that I need to do these days, it feels like I can no longer stay awake for those long hours in the night, or that I don’t have the strength to get up at dawn anymore to write. But if we ever want to overcome a writer’s block, we need to find time to fight for it. This is a spiritual battle.
  3. Prioritize. Maybe you were never truly meant to be a writer and your time has come. That is something you may be afraid of, and perhaps it is true in some cases. But maybe it’s just a challenge you have to face and overcome. If you feel deeply sad, stripped and lost because you’re not writing, then you definitely need to do it again.

I always tell myself that I have time. My mother calls it just a phase and says it will pass, but sometimes I’m honestly afraid that it never will. And when I think that, I feel a not inside my chest, I feel empty and betrayed – betrayed by myself. So I do believe that I will write again, because I want to, because I need to… but I will only destroy this writer’s block when I myself work hard for it. No one else will do it for me. It has to be me.

As a bit of inspiration, I am leaving here Henley’s poem:

Out of the night that covers me,
      Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
      For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
      I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
      My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
      Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
      Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
      How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
      I am the captain of my soul.

 

 

 

 

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