Unblocking Writer’s Block, Chronic Illness Edition

Sunset at Victoria Park, Kitchener | More at http://instagram.com/pfthurley

It’s hard to explain what life is like when you’re chronically ill, not only because it’s challenging to describe the many ways you’re unable to do normal things, but also because it’s challenging to explain to others why even doing simple things takes so much energy and time.

Indeed, it’s been a while since I’ve written anything that I’d consider to be good. Even this missive, for that’s what it is, isn’t very good, and I know that. In fact, lately, I haven’t really done much writing at all. I think about writing and I think about writing my thoughts, but those thoughts always seem to fly faster than what my precious fingers can type.

And then I become flustered, because, of course, I can’t quite get it all to slow down long enough for me to put it all on paper, because my brain is slower than it used to be. Or at least it feels that way.

And so the cycle ends where it starts, my head in my hands.


I’ve been doing little things lately to encourage me to write. I went to the Dollar Store and bought a dry erase board, so that I could write down little notes of encouragement to myself. Of course, it’s now a To-Do list, because, why not.

Don’t make fun of my handwriting! Why do you think I type?

The point is, all these little actions have a tendency to come together and create one big action. By taking little steps, you get to where you want to go, even if you get there slower than what you’d like. And so I’ve committed myself to taking small steps, wherever possible.

Unfortunately, my perfectionism often prevents me from finishing my writing. I get caught up doing my editing while I’m writing, and then get bogged down by the insecurities that inevitably follow. I know that the best writers write, and then they edit; indeed all of my best work usually comes when I’ve just let it flow, and then gone back and worked it over later.

And so, here’s another small step, to be taken one day at a time.

Over the next 21 days (they say that how long it takes to form a habit) I plan on writing and publishing something every day.

Whether it’s a few sentences, a few paragraphs or a few pages, something has to be written down on paper (read: typed into a computer) and published online, whether it’s my best writing or not.

My hope is that these little steps will together result in a big step forward, not only for my writing, but also for my mental health. My world is in my head; Figuring out how to get it all out and have energy left over to simply live life is overwhelming enough without the pressure of perfectionism holding me back.

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