Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Combatting writer's block and the sickness of comparison

This weekend Adam asked me why I wasn't writing anymore.  I told him I had just posted that week.  And then I realized it was the week before.  And that it had been a month before that.


He said it worried him, that when someone stops doing something they love there's usually a reason.  I told him I was just in a rut, a block, I'd figure it out.

But the conversation made me start to think about why I wasn't writing, and why I did write when I did.  What was my purpose, my motivation?  What did it say about me that I wasn't writing?

After much thought over the past few days, I think I've stumbled upon two main things that keeps me from writing.  Maybe you can relate.

One is that writing is just so very personal.  I take the time to get ideas out there, they may be strongly held views or maybe just silly things I've been thinking about.  Sometimes the things that come out in a post aren't at all what I actually sat down to write about.  Sometimes I'll write an entire post, hit publish and think no more on it.  Other times I'll write an entire post and never hit publish.  Oftentimes the post that means the most to me is one that is most personal, the one that might never ever get published.

I get scared.

You might not ever know how very shy I can be.  I think it's easy to think that we bloggers, because we do put ourselves out there for the "world" to read, that we are brave souls, forging our way in this wild world wide web, neither caring nor bothering with what others think.

And that's just not true.

I've shared before that I am an introvert at heart.  Making friends, really good friends not just fun acquaintances, is hard for me.  I don't put myself out there unless I can truly trust that person, be myself around that person.  So why on earth do I blog if I'm such a private person?

I write to share and store memories.  I write to express.  To remind myself that I am more than just a mom, or just a wife, or just a teacher.  Those just's just aren't fair.  Those just's are what make me who I am.  I write so I won't see myself as just a just.

The second is that age old game of comparison.  The sickness of comparison can come onto anyone.  I may not think I'm comparing myself to anyone, but that's not true, not at all.  If I read a blog that showcases beautiful photography I begin to pick apart my own photos.  If I read that someone's home was in a magazine, I conveniently disregard her claims (that I know are true--I've read her blog!) that her house really isn't perfect, that the magazine people perfectly arrange a room, tweaking it left and right before finalizing a shot, and I begin wishing my own home was more something.  If I read about a mom's parenting journey I instantly (if only briefly) feel like the worst loser-mom on the planet.

Do you fall victim to comparison?  This constant comparing is an illness, one that is detrimental to your art, your creativity, ultimately your joy.

Don't fall into the lies that your head tries to tell you that everyone else has it together, that everyone else' photos come out of their camera looking like perfection, that no one else yells at their kids, that everyone else but you in this entire world knows what they're doing and doesn't doubt.  Those are lies.  They are not true.

Three things I read recently that I enjoyed and thought you might as well:

  • A Familiar Path--post about why she writes.  Simple but to the point.  I read Melissa's blog and every time am reminded that we are on this life as a journey.
  • Melissa linked to Seth's blog where he also talks about writing.  I want to drip.  Read it, you'll understand.
  • Dawn writes at My Home Sweet Home.  If you scroll down that page you'll find a short, 9-ish minute video about creating and the sickness of comparison.
Seth (above link) says that writer's block wasn't even heard of until the 1940s, that folks didn't suffer from it.  I find this hard to believe.  Ok, so that's when the word was invented, I believe that, but I bet that ever since we've been putting pen to paper, an eye to the lens, brush to canvas, fingers to keys, writer's block has been a very real part of humans and the creativity process.  Creativity is just so easily squelched and scared straight out of us. 

I'm going to try to "drip" (I mentioned it once above, twice says I really mean it!) each and everyday. Writing begets writing.  Creativity begets creativity. 

How do you create?  How do combat the comparison illness and creativity-blocks?

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