Writing Blocks are NOT about Writing

Since my book-writing is not coming as quickly as I know it should, I’ve determined I must be blocked. I know myself well enough to know that my writing blocks very rarely have anything to do with writing.

I’ve written just fine on so many other projects I have going. It’s not the words that are stuck…it’s me.

It reminds me of a scene that just recently unfolded in our house. Big Sprout’s first writing assignment for his seventh grade history class was a story about his life. He stared blankly at the computer screen frustrated because the words just wouldn’t come.

“I don’t have anything to say,” he complained, “I have to have a paragraph about my life from when I was born up until I turned five, a paragraph from kindergarten through 6th grade, and a paragraph about my most recent summer. I don’t have anything to write!”

“Hmm. Sure, I can see why you don’t have anything to say,” I sarcastically remarked. “There wasn’t much interesting about the 6 moves you made living in three different states by the time you started kindergarten. It’s not really that cool of a story that you spent your elementary school years back and forth between the cabin in Wisconsin and our house in Minnesota/ And you’re right, there’s not much to say about last summer that was like all the other summers of your life spent with friends and family in Colorado.  I’m sorry you’ve had such a boring life so far,” I quipped.

He angrily tapped out a few letters, and then slouched defeated in his chair.

He had been moody since coming home from school, and I guessed that it wasn’t the assignment that was hanging him up at all.

“Is there something bothering you?” I asked. “Do you think there might be another reason you can’t write right now?”

After pushing him hard enough, the emotions began to release. He was frustrated with how football was going. He had gotten past the initial learning curve, and now he was frustrated with the feeling he had of being stalled.  He felt like no one was throwing him passes…and he felt as though he had hit a learning plateau. He was unsure how to bust through. In addition to that, there were other swirling emotions that he had not addressed about kids at school, how he felt about himself, and all the other incredibly important seventh-grade issues. His identity was in flux, and writing a concrete story about his life was more daunting than it normally would have been.

He talked. He cried, (not much, but enough), and I watched as his “block” slowly melted.

So as I stare (too often) at the blinking cursor that waits below a chapter title or a section description, I start to wonder what my block might be. Bear with me as I write it out…

There are too many things floating in my head: ugly thoughts, judgments, frustrations, stories about unloving people, and each time I consider writing it out, giving it a public voice, I am held back by one thing…FEAR.

For those of you who read my first book, and bless you for that, you know that I seemingly shared everything about my life. I had this candor that I maybe should have considered longer, but I felt safe to reveal.

I knew that my husband loved me unconditionally…my parents and siblings would eventually get through any pain my words caused and get back to loving me unconditionally too.  I trusted that…and I was confident saying what I felt needed to be said.

I don’t feel safe with this one.

I don’t trust that writing my book about youth sports is nearly as safe. The emotions of sports are more heightened than the intimate emotions of a marriage. People, and millions and millions of people, align with a philosophy and the division is deep and wide about a lot of topics. There are parenting, financial, coaching, and lifestyle philosophies that people will defend with every fiber of their being.

I’ve recently lost some of the confidence I had as I was sketching out the chapters. What happened in our house this past week has convinced me that the beast of youth sports is capable of so much more harm than I ever considered possible.

So, I have a decision to make. What I have FEARED… has happened, and I’ve gotten an up-close look at it. I have to decide whether I can handle continuing to lose the political battles to fight the principled ones. I have to decide that I have courage enough to tackle these emotional issues on behalf of all kids and I have to be willing to watch our own children potentially suffer because of it.

I know that if I write about those “unwritten” rules of youth sports, if I live according to what I believe to be the right way to develop children, there are real consequences for those decisions.

Maybe this book will be something that I write…and guard…under lock and key in order to give time for our kids to get through the machine before it turns on me.

There are a lot of “blocks” in my way right now, and only I can do the emotional work necessary to move past them.

What do you think? Do you think it is worth fighting for the greater good, potentially sacrificing our children in the process?

This one’s a bit bigger than me…and if you’re the praying type, I can’t imagine it wouldn’t help.

 

Choosing to Grow  copyright 2012                             Meagan Frank

 

www.meaganfrank.com                                                      

2 thoughts on “Writing Blocks are NOT about Writing

  1. HI Meagan,

    Just a quick thought (having written my doctoral dissertation on creative blocks): invite yourself to visualize your “block” as an object, whatever comes to mind. Now imagine sitting quietly before this object. Notice everything about it. Size, weight, color, smell, texture, provenance, symbolic associations, other possible uses for such an object besides blocking the way forward. Meditate on this block, ask it what it is protecting you from. Fear, perhaps, but fear of what? What will happen if…?

    Entertain the possibility that whatever you believe you fear is actually a memory of pain, projected into the future (this is a way we defend ourselves from fully reconciling the pain of the past, particularly the unremembered past).

    Also entertain the notion that you imagine you will have a certain feeling if only you become unblocked and complete and succeed. Entertain this feeling that you want. Imagine what it would feel like to have that feeling. The more you can access the feeling of being alive, safe, free and creative the more you become unblocked and free to create from a place of presence.

    Finally, great art is often driven by questions. Books that explain, and I’ve written this way before, do not really work as well as books and stories that simply show. Many of us are blocked, afraid, alone, ashamed in different ways… maybe you will discover your fellowship with the rest of us IN the place you struggle. Then instead of leading us out, you discover you’re already in the group, the circle, as you are and where you are.

    Mostly just sending you encouragement and All Best Wishes, Bruce

    ________________________________

    • Bruce, I cannot thank you enough for your comment. You have challenged me in so many ways, and I value your insight and your input much more than I could express. Thank you for taking the time to counsel and encourage. The world is a better place with you in it!!
      Thank you,
      Meagan

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