This is the first thing I have written in 6 weeks. Nothing happened specifically, at least nothing noticeable and profound. At first I thought I was just distracted by my day job and several tight deadlines. Then as one week turned into another and another and still no words would come, I tried changing my strategy. Rather than sit in front of a blank screen night after night, I began to read. I read like an addict, book after book, reading before work, at lunch, in the bathtub, on the treadmill. I thought reading good works would inspire me to write some good works. I even considered writing a fiction book, thinking a change in genre would help overcome my stuckness. Still no words came. I told myself I was just busy and writer’s block would pass eventually. I began to journal more, to free write with no purpose or goal, I even wrote a story about my cats as secret detectives. Yeah. That happened.
Then, one day in the middle of a run I finally put it all together – the cause of my first ever, long lasting, deadline missing writer’s block. I was right all along– it wasn’t one thing. It was 3.
When I rewound the timeline to when I lost all interest and motivation to write, I remembered. First, I got a big opportunity to pitch my next book to a real agent and I went for it completely. The same week I learned that I not only didn’t win an award I submitted a piece for, but I also didn’t get selected to host a workshop at a large event that was looking for LGBT workshops. And in all 3 cases I not only got rejected, I never heard a peep from the organizations. It was like hurry hurry hurry, try try try, submit submit submit and then – crickets. I never thought the agent would actually pick up my book. I never thought I’d actually win an award. I never even thought I would get picked up to do a workshop. It wasn’t some sense of broken expectations that was killing my writing mojo. It was that I found myself in one of the biggest vulnerability hangovers I have ever had. I put myself out there in big and new ways not once but three times, very close together and never even got a rejection email. I say this not as an excuse, but as a sharing of my awareness that in order to finally move past the block, I needed to better understand what caused it in the first place.
The truth is, writing can be incredibly solitary. And it can feel like no one is actually reading anything your write. So when you write authentically, about intimate parts of your life, like dating and relationships, the inevitable vulnerability can be a lot to carry. Add to that new attempts at new things and…well it just pushed me right over the edge, particularly during a busy, deadline-driven period of my career. And so, I have no brilliant words to offer in terms of what I learned here. But I can say that I have no regrets about putting myself out there in those ways. I wouldn’t change it. Going forward, perhaps to avoid such a long lasting vulnerability hangover, I might mix up the timing a bit, or go for at least one semi-sure thing as a confidence booster. When have you felt a vulnerability hangover that left your mojo behind for a while? How did you overcome it? I’d love to hear from you in the comments box.