Thursday, January 22, 2015


There is a term I rarely utter. In fact, until, well, maybe last night, I never have. I don't even like to encourage it being uttered by others when talking with my writer friends.

(That makes it sound like I have a posse of writer friends. Uh, I don't. But I do know several writers, here and there and everywhere in this screenwriting city.)

The term is this: Writer's Block.


So cliche. So negative.


I feel that it's like giving up.

Not that I'm not a quitter. Another discussion for another time.

I was with my friends Stephen and Sonya last night, catching up on life, and this term that I hate came up. And I admit, I brought it up, I dared to utter the words without prompting.

We were having a lovely time, Sonya scuttling about, setting the atmosphere for our bonding time. In her search for the key to the fireplace, she suddenly said, "Ooh! Candle!" and grabbed a little scented thing off the mantel (I thought it smelled like cinnamon rolls, Stephen would comment that it smelled like the perfume in cat litter -- who's more romantic between the two of us?) and placed it in the middle of our living room dining table, where our Trader Joe's microwave meals and cabernet sauvingnon awaited us.

Sonya turned on the CD player (still using CDs, my people) to see what Stephen had been listening to, and some booming classical stuff filled the room. "Oh, we're going to have to make a change," Sonya said, and put on some Latin somethingrather that had each of us instantly dancing in place.

So there we were, catching up on life, cats popping in and out of my lap, cat litter scent wafting in the air, and Stephen just had to go and ask about my writing.

He's a writer himself, so I couldn't just give him a surface answer. We writers are on to each other. It's the good and bad news of our coexistence.

So I decided, skirting around the term, justifying why I was using the term, to finally just go ahead and utter the term itself. I admitted I was having some writer's block.

We talked about some theories -- I'm super hyper happy these days, and distracted, and busy. We talked about how maybe when I've been in darker times that perhaps my concentration for overanalytical writing was better. This is sad, but maybe true. (As a writer and a human, I urge you to heal the pain in your life rather than hold on to it for the sake of being a better writer. I don't know that I'm a "worse" writer right now, I'm just in a season of distraction).

And then Stephen, with enthusiastic urgency (this sums him up in many ways), disappeared to get books about Tchaikovsky, promising to return.

He came back, with two books about or by Tchaikovsky, and a plaque that read, "Be Tchaikovsky."

He then proceeded to read to me about the importance of just working, working, working, even if what you are producing is crap. Just. Keep. Going. Tchaikovsky apparently abided by this theory, that his composition masterpieces were not the result of genius but rather of sitting his ass in a chair and continuing to slog through terrible music he was writing.

So Stephen encouraged me to write about my writer's (block) and to let that be my next topic.

So here you have it.

I'm struggling, world. I feel like my writing is whiny and hyper and here and there and not deep enough and blah blah blah!

I don't wish to be depressed again, no thank you. I wish my thoughts and feelings would quit rattling around like a child with candy (or an adult Bailey with coffee) and settle down already onto the page in a nice essay.

I wish I knew what my book would look like. Well, if I knew exactly what it will look like, then that would make the process of writing it pretty tear-your-eyelashes-out dry. But you know what I mean. Maybe you don't. Maybe I should write about it so you know how I imagine that would feel.

I want to write a memoir, or a series of chronological-ish, or at least themed, essays. I want them to tell my story of mental health struggles and victories. Of learning through growing. Of my spiritual doubts and fears. Of what keeps bringing me back to church, and the Bible, and Jesus. Of how I beat up on myself.

I go back and forth wondering whether I should write a book from a mental health framework, and let the faith stuff sift in, or vice versa. Or if I should just tell my story, start to finish, and then let everything else fall in the crevices. Because there's no way to tell my story without telling of the heart-racing, cold-sweat, terrified moments. The moments of doubting everything I'd believed for years before. The moments of anxiety so heavy I couldn't eat. The depression that made me fear my life would end prematurely. The medication that got me past that fear for my future.

It will all end up in the story.

And I'll edit out the crap that doesn't need to be there.

But first I must stack the pages.

I must write garbage.

I must admit to my friends that what I am writing is garbage.

I must sit dutifully, humbly, quietly, while my friend reads to me about Tchaikovsky.

I must patiently wait out my hyper moments, trying my best to put words to a page while my body and brain just buzzzzzzzz.

I must write garbage. And wait for the gems to rise above the trash heap.

When I tell people I want to write memoirs, they either say "Interesting!" or they look at me sideways. "Don't you have to live a little longer?" they ask.

I wonder sometimes if they're right. Maybe I'm not old enough. But maybe that's just an easy excuse to grab. A ticket out of writing my daily garbage/maybe not garbage.

I think I just need to be a whiny, hyper, young chit chatter. Moving words around on a page, thinking and overthinking and overthinking some more. Not worrying about whether people are reading it. Not worrying about if I even put it out there for people to read. I need to quit wondering when I'll hit Ann Patchett level of fame, or Anne Lamott's level of camaraderie in the faith community.

I need to just be me. With a keyboard. Writing. And hoping the readers will be patient, and appreciative.



  1. Love it - Bailey as Tchaikovsky. Great post!

  2. A screenwriting professor I had in college said that writers block was simply losing interest in a piece. Put it down, go write something you're more interested in at this moment and maybe you'll go back to the original piece, maybe not. But it's nothing to beat yourself up about because the best writing comes from things we are most passionate about.

    1. Hmm, interesting perspective. I'll add that to my collection of writer's advice. Thanks!

  3. That's it! Just. Keep. Writing. Something. What a fun time hanging together. Gotta do it again soon

    1. I know, great time! Only wish it was longer! <3