Dear Reader: Lessons learned while not writing

Dear Reader (1)

Dear Reader,

It’s a beautiful fall like mid-morning in North Texas and sitting behind this keyboard while listening to relaxing music is heaven. I haven’t felt this good in a long time.

It’s been a while since I’ve written and updated you on my goings-on. It’s been a rocky four months in my writing life but what’s the writing life without a couple of bumpy patches?

I’m not going to spend tons of time in this letter discussing about the rough patch. I want to write about what I’m doing to get over the rough patch. Writers go through times — hours, days, months, years — where, frankly, it just sucks to be a writer.  For me, it came in the middle of a creative spurt where one day I was writing and the next day I wasn’t. Just didn’t want to write anymore.

Some would call that writer’s block. It’s not. Writer’s block doesn’t exist. I knew exactly what the book was supposed to look like. It was outlined. The ending was already written. I just one day wanted to stop writing…everything. The book, freelance pieces, even blog posts were not being written.

As you know, I’m truthful about my process — the good, the bad, and the very ugly. The very ugly turned its ugly head. I became depressed and thought that this was it, I was done writing. Writing would never happen again for me. All the doubts that a writer needs to lock away in order to do work seeped into my head: You’re talentless. Why do you spend so much time writing if you haven’t published one novel yet.  If you were really any good, you’d be on the third book already. Your grad school classmates are publishing, what are you doing? 

For awhile I believed it. So much so that I sank into a deeper depression and even reading was painful. It was painful to write and not to write. Friends told me to give myself time, that I needed time to become accustomed to my new life and surroundings. So that’s what I did. I focused on work, which, ironically, included critiquing student’s writing. I felt disingenuous, however — a writer who wasn’t writing commenting on writing. I hate that feeling.

But you know, sometimes, you just have to get out of your own way. Sometimes the not writing is trying to tell you something about the writing. (Tweet this)

And fake it until you make it is actually a thing.

Slowly, I began to feel less disingenuous with my critiques. I thought about my writing life as that, a life, not just a thing but an actual life that was meant to be lived. And so, I started to look for things where I can live my life. I returned to the practice of yoga, but this time more formally by signing up for a yoga retreat and attending yoga classes.  (My body is so sore at the moment! )

Then, on recommendation of a mentor, I started looking for a writing home, a critique group or workshop to join. A community. I’ve written about how writers need community but I had forgotten my own advice. (It happens.)

 

Soon, I began to take solace in my students. I may not have been writing but they needed what I had learned so far. And sometimes they made me laugh.

Flawless

Then yesterday something wonderful happened.

writing

Am I back to full form? No. I still have to work on the life part of the writing life. I still have to work on living. I plan to join one of the two writing groups I visited recently. Yoga will continue to kick my arse and I will use that practice to learn what I need for my writing practice — patience, challenge, acceptance, and process.

We had this saying in grad school, trust the process. By the end of our time at Goddard, it had been repeated to us so often we made a drinking game out of it. But those three words are as true as the words I love you. Trust the process. The journey is unique to each individual. That’s what makes it so precious. Trust your process, dear Readers. Trust that the moments you are living are the seeds to future amazing effort.

Trust. Trust. Trust.

With a full and humbled heart I remain…

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