A Three-Front War on Writer’s Block

Photo credit: Drew Coffman

I suppose being a writer is just a never-ending series of periods of writer’s block punctuated by periods of feeling like maybe you’re actually sort of creating something good, but this time feels different.

It’s not just writer’s block, not just a lack of ideas (I have plenty) or time (I don’t exactly have plenty, but I have enough). Something weird and sad happened to me after the election, and I started to feel apathetic about most of the topics I’d been writing about just days before it. Who cares about polyamory at a time like this?

Of course, it’s a ridiculous question. Of course I still are about polyamory, and communication skills, and all the other things I was writing about. Of course we should continue trying to carve the best lives we can for ourselves out of this ugly, nondescript concrete that we’ve gotten ourselves sunk into.

But depression!brain won’t listen, and so I’ve barely written anything for weeks, not for lack of ideas or desire but simply because of a classic depressive inability to connect intentions with actions. It just somehow…doesn’t happen.

So I’m trying something new. Or rather, a few things new. First, I’m getting my depression treated (again) and my chronic fatigue (hopefully) diagnosed. But neither of these things may yield any results for a while or ever.

Second, I’m making a conscious effort to start journaling again — not random snippets posted into journaling apps on my phone, but actual journaling, in an actual leather-bound journal that I bought at Barnes & Noble. As cliche as it is to buy fancy products in an attempt to get oneself to write, that should at least give you some idea of the depths of desperation I have now reached.

To assist with that, I’ve written up a long list of journal prompts — all the ones I could find online seemed crappy and shallow, so I had to make my own — that are designed to get me writing about important shit as efficiently as possible. I’m realizing that I’m carrying around a whole lot of emotional baggage right now, and part of the writer’s block problem is that my blog isn’t an appropriate space for that and yet I don’t feel like I can write anything else until I write these things. So, journal it is.

Third, I’m going to be writing these journal-ish posts on Medium as often as I can possibly force myself. When I say “journal-ish,” I just mean that they’re not going to be particularly well-edited, and I won’t be coming up with cool titles for them, and I don’t particularly care who reads them or what they think of them. They might be rather rambly, although I’m fortunate in that even my rambliest thoughts still seem to come out in a relatively cohesive fashion. Maybe years of near-daily writing do that to you, I dunno.

The point of this isn’t so much to write anything Good as to gently ease myself back into the habit of writing for an audience (just as my paper journal-writing is a way to ease myself back into the habit of writing for myself), and to see what kinds of interesting ideas do spring up that might be worthy of a more thoughtful post on my actual blog.

So, wish me luck. I hope I can actually make it out of this.