When You Can’t Write

It has been a long time since I’ve been here – life has a way of interrupting one’s healthy pursuits – and now it’s been several years of absence not just from Narratess but from pursuing some of my dreams as a creator.

I am, of course, not the only one who has suffered stagnation. The pandemic, for example, has stalled a lot of writers, whether directly or indirectly, and the daily struggle to maintain our mental health can be a formidable barrier to their progress. I know they feel its pressure today and will feel it tomorrow, and that sitting down and just writing can be more than merely challenging.

For some it feels impossible to sit down and be comfortable in their favourite writing spot. For some it might be possible to do so, but the moment they try to make the words flow they find themselves unable to make it happen. For others, and I fall into this category at present, the words might flow but they feel mechanical, passionless and cold.

Stalling Out

At the end of July I had a bombshell drop into my life. I was devastated, deeply hurt and wounded, and I was incapable of creating anything for a while even as I sought for the relief of losing myself in a story.

(Incidentally, this bombshell, for all the damage it did, is also what made me realise that I’d let a lot of my more creative ambitions slide over the years, which is one of the reasons you’re hearing from me again after such a long absence. I’ve been doing my best to shape this weakness into a strength.)

These days when I try to write I sit down, I have my tea, I have the appropriate music playing, and assuming I’m not fighting off waves of intrusive thoughts the words do appear, and in decent numbers – my first proper writing session in a long time saw me churning out a respectable 3000 words in a little under two hours.

Yet, it felt mechanical. Hollow. Words that filled in the gaps in my story’s skeleton without passion or love. I tried to “get into” my story again, to resurrect the excitement I used to feel when thinking about the next chapter I could reach, the next scene I could pen, but the sensation that had always motivated me and drove me to write consistently eluded me.

I found my mind wandering to unpleasant things, dwelling on what had happened, unable to focus on what I had hoped would make me feel a little like my old self. I wanted to feel like a writer again, and I couldn’t feel that way up until the moment I sat down and decided – on an impulse – to write this article.

Because I want to tell you that it’s okay.

Rediscovering Your Passions

You will be okay. Your writing will be okay. Your craft, your art, your passion will be okay.

Now I’m no therapist or psychologist, but as someone who has and is currently going through this myself, I can share my own experience and my own slow, crawling road to recovery.

I can feel the writer in me. He’s still alive, and yours is too – and they’ll come out when you feed them.

For me? Besides doing all the things that anyone should do – consulted a professional, started attending to many things I’d been neglecting in the department of self-care, and worked on building better habits for myself. But to reawaken the creative side of myself?

I sought out inspiration. Actively hunted it down – I started watching shows I’d abandoned a long time ago, actually followed through on every music recommendation I got and revisited old musical loves I’d forgotten and, as it always has been, it was music that started saving me.

I closed my eyes and let Ludovico Einaudi’s Experience move me as it once did. I let A Perfect Circle’s Passive remind me why I loved it. I discovered Ice Nine Kills’s The Silver Scream. I cried at Nightwish’s live performance of Ghost Love Score at Wacken (I have never failed to cry when listening to this piece, it’s just so good).

Slowly, over the last week, I’ve felt the writer in me start to stir again. He’s still dormant, still a little gun shy, and afraid of being wounded again by unpleasant reminders or imaginings if I let my find just run away with my creativity again.

I’m not there yet, but I am healing.

Finding Your Own Way

This has started to work for me, and your journey may be different than mine, but if I can be okay and I can heal, then so can you.

The creator in you – the writer, the artist, the poet, the song writer, the designer – is still there and you will find one another again.

Find the things that once inspired you, long ago. Embrace the new things that might do it today, and be ready to discard what doesn’t move you. Reach out to those you trust. Seek professional help. Be kind to yourself, and most importantly give yourself time.

This is going to hurt, this is going to take time, but you are going to be okay.

You will create again.

If you are in need of mental health assistance, don’t be afraid to reach out. Below are several links that could be helpful.

USA: National Alliance on Mental Illness
Canada: The Lifeline Canada Foundation
UK: Samaritans

*This is my personal referral link as I use BetterHelp myself. I do not make money if you use this link and if you do choose to sign on it will not cost you any more, but in the spirit of full disclosure it does help me out if you use it.

One thought on “When You Can’t Write

  1. Jaedia says:

    Welcome back. <3

    I can say I have been there and pulling out of it somewhat, at least to blog again recently, has felt really good. I hope you can get there too.

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