Friday, May 14, 2010

It isn't Writer's Block

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I've been on a break of sorts from blogging recently. Nothing has been wrong to cause this. Life, as it often does, has gotten in the way to a certain extent. Beyond that, however, I've had an extended 'moment' of...something. I have said it before and it bears repeating that I am not a daily blogger. I write when inspiration strikes and enjoy that particular personal rhythm, as it works for me in my own peculiar manner. When inspiration doesn't strike, I simply don't write. Again, it works for me. It is, however, a bit unusual for inspiration to be on such an extended vacation. What I have discovered, over the years, is that this isn't Writer's Block, per se. For me, it is a pause of sorts...a pause, a breath held for long moments, waiting for magic to enter. And it always does.

Most writers would label this the creeping monster of doubt known as the aforementioned and dreaded Writer's Block. I don't identify it as that, but I will admit to being quite aware of a different pace of sorts causing a hitch in my normal writing rhythm. I also admit that as time stretched on with no familiar burning need to write thoughts out in blog article format, I did begin to question what was taking place. Being the researching, analyzing personality that I am, I studied this experience from all angles. Poked at it. Nudged it sideways. Shifted it a fraction of an inch that way, then back again. Walked away from it for days only to return and regard it through occasionally narrowed, contemplative eyes.

Finally, this morning, I had had enough. Time to joust with this unruly, temperamental, irregular jog to my writing stride. "Don't worry so much, just sit down and write," I have often suggested to writing students that I have coached. I know this to be a valuable bit of advice, as it can be helpful to knock loose the logjam of thoughts in every writer's mind. Once you begin writing, it can magically open up the floodgates and inspiration once more comes rushing forward. So, adopting a 'physician, heal thyself' philosophy, I began musing with much more intent than I have implemented in the past month. And suddenly, before even setting fingertips to keyboard to begin the writing process, the thought occurred.

Perhaps we have all inaccurately tossed the cold, sterile phrase of Writer's Block around as a throwaway concept. Perhaps it isn't a block at all. I have written in a past blog about the concept of useful limbo, as I experienced that very thing in the recent past. I believe there are definitely moments in our lives where God/Universe intentionally isolates us in order to forcefully focus our minds in a direction we would otherwise never have time to notice and open up to. This, I boldly suggest, is that ephemeral moment, that opening up to allow magic to flow and embrace the writer's mind.

I have been experiencing what I would now identify as a mini-useful-limbo stage. It definitely has not been a block of any kind in regard to writing, as my mind and imagination have been as fertile and active as they always are. Indeed, there are stacks and lists and jotted notes in abundance waiting to be completed and given voice in blog format. They just aren't ready yet. My mind, my Spirit has been attending to another task. And in the process, I have stumbled across the novel concept - to me, at least - that there truly is no such thing as 'writer's block' in the concrete sense of the description. How liberating for writers the world over to revise their definition of this moment when their pens refuse to write, when the thoughts refuse to flow, when inspiration is is not a block, it is a sabbatical!

By definition, as is my wont and love of words:

Webster's Dictionary describes the word 'sabbatical' as 1) an adjective, meaning of or relating to a sabbatical year; or as 2) a noun, meaning a leave or break or change from a normal routine or employment; or again as 3) a noun, meaning a year of rest for the land observed every seventh year in ancient Judea. (
I think we are all aware that life is a series of neverending cycles, of beginnings, middle stages and endings. Curiously, I have noted over the years that my own life tends to run on periods of 5 - 7 year cycles. I recognized a little over two years ago that I was in the midst of a new cycle and with that huge chunk of grander change, I am also aware that there are mini-cycles taking place. This most recent one has been that sabbatical of sorts where, I am now aware, my psyche has been doing some necessary shifting. Adjusting, realigning, perhaps disposing of certain patterns that no longer serve me well, and embracing new patterns that have fresh, strong purpose. This is an inward journey for some, and others choose to physically travel the world and discover themselves outwardly.

All of this is time consuming, but while I am in the midst of the process, time seems to slow down and stretch, as though I am in a slight time warp. Where normally I might be jittery and a bit impatient, not wanting to lose momentum with my blog following, the stronger pull has been to honor this mini-sabbatical. In the back of my mind, something is resonating softly but with bright purpose and I know it requires clear energy and full attention to bring it together into a cohesive melding. Do I know what all this means? No, I really don't. That may sound a bit off kilter, as I have dedicated a full blog post to talking about what I am experiencing.

I guess I could've whittled this down to a few simple paragraphs that said I have recently taken a mini-sabbatical from blog posts. It would be true, but it wouldn't have allowed me to go on this winding trail of self-discovery. It also wouldn't have allowed me to write this stream of consciousness that I often find turns out some true gems. And to be a bit self-deprecating, I admit it wouldn't have been half as much fun, half as enjoyable as sharing my thoughts in this manner, here, with you. I like to think that many of my friends and readers enjoy going on these jaunts with me in written format, meandering the long way around and about the proverbial Back 40 before reaching the destination. Some days that destination is clear and I know where we'll end up, but more often the journey brings me to a different 'home' each time.

As I'm writing this, part of my mind is noticing that this post bears quite strong resemblance to a couple of past posts. My writer's preference is to never repeat myself - it's just a personal peeve, but this time I'm going to go ahead and give this one voice. I am posting it because I recognize that sometimes repetition occurs in our lives for the very simple purpose of imprinting a lesson. Commonly held belief is that doing something 21 times creates a pattern of habit in our brains. I cannot argue with the thought that a bit of repetition on a common theme in blog posts might help not only me, but maybe click for other people who read this post and compare it to past blog posts that have been steps in this mental reflection of mine. So, I will write this one and post it and see where it resonates, and what results occur.

This time it has brought me to the realization that for me, at least, right this moment in this past month of curious inactivity from a writing standpoint, it hasn't been writer's block. It has been a spiritual sabbatical that has allowed my Soul to do some honing and refining. Where I will admit that I was beginning to question the possibility of some true manifestation of blocking, instead I sit here, writing and smiling as I embrace a much friendlier, useful description. Not writer's block. Instead, a pause for magic! Maybe a lull...but better adapted as a sabbatical. I like it, and I think it will become a new phrase in my personal library.

If you enjoyed this post and would like to read more, you can find me at Healing Morning blog.