As I sat down to write this piece, my mind froze. I couldn’t think of what I wanted to say or how to say it, let alone how to begin. After 20 minutes of staring blankly at the screen, anxiety began to rise and self-defeating thoughts took center stage: “I have nothing new to say.”
Moments before a full-on free fall into panic, I decided to stop, drink some tea, and feel the sun on my skin while I gathered my thoughts. Once my mind finally began to calm, it hit me. Writers‘s block. The pesky intruder that haunts all writers, leaves our confidence quaking, and seems to eerily appear right when deadlines are looming.
How do I approach this foe? I wondered. Then I realized the answer was in my process. It was following my intuition of tea, sun, and space. In other words, letting go. The exact opposite of what my writer’s block was telling me to do. The intruder was whispering at me to struggle, to worry, to pick apart my thoughts until I got it just right. However, I’d tried this in the past and struggling just made it worse. This time I made a conscious choice to let go.
I let go of the inner critic by taking pen to paper and scribbling whatever came to mind through stream of consciousness. I let go of trying to follow a linear outline by exploring writing from the middle rather than the beginning. I let go of internal pressure by taking a break in the sun and coming back refreshed, with a new perspective.
Writer’s block doesn’t have to be a struggle; it can be the necessary pause before new possibilities.
Graduate Assistant, Virtual Writing Center