It’s a new year and as promised, I wanted to add some exciting things to my blog! My new friend Naomi agreed to do a guest blog for each other to talk about our writing fears. Please go to her blog and subscribe and show her some love!
As a writer, I want to make it. By make it, I mean be published, make a big list like the NY Time’s Best Seller’s, or – and probably more likely – be respected in my academic community.
As a person, this terrifies me. Writing, and making something permanent, let alone something that is published is a huge opportunity and threat. It’s moments like these, I feel a bit like my scaredy-rescue cats, Tweety and Sylvester.
Caption: This is Slyvester, he likes boxes. So do I.
It’s not that I don’t want to publish, or put something out there, but my research is in an under-researched, but currently super-hot topic, and I don’t feel like I have the voice to be the first writer on it. You see, I appear, at least visually, to be part of the dominant, in-power portion of society. Even though I’m not, I appear to be an upper middle class white woman of power and privilege, who is going to write about whether we can indigenize music education (or not, or not in an easy way). At the best of times, this leads me to a good philosophical discussion, and the knowledge that I am supported by the Aboriginal community in my city to do this work with and beside them. At the worst of times, it’s a paralyzing fear that makes me hide in the library reading absolutely everything I can get my hands on – instead of living and being in the world.
Since returning to school in September to do a masters, and theoretically a PhD (eventually? I’m still allowing myself to be non-committal here.) I haven’t posted anything public of essence, and I certainly haven’t written anything I felt like sending to a publisher. Even sending emails to professors at school has been hard, I feel exposed, and vulnerable. I tried in vain to submit to an anthology with Fighting Monkey Press, but failed at hitting send. Couldn’t put myself out there.
In a semi-planned, pretty windy path kind of way, I took the last four months to figure it out, understand how I could help myself, and move on to making the commitment to write every day in 2017. (I did a trial run in December, and since it wasn’t a complete failure, I figure I’ll state it publicly, 😛 )
Here then, are my three tips for bringing yourself back from that silenced voice, more often known in the author community as the dreaded writers block.
- Schedule it
This sounds so simple, so mundane, so easy… It gets easy, it wasn’t easy to start, but thanks to Google Calendar, and a new style of non/self-employment, life had to be scheduled different anyway. What I learned from this, was that if I put it in my calendar, the guilt of not doing it and having to move it to the next day is enough to make me write something. I like to-do lists, specifically crossing things off them. My calendar is like a reverse to-do list – I make myself re-schedule the things I don’t do, and eventually, looking at a day full of procrastinated tasks made me re-orientate. It’s helped in so many ways – my email list of to-do’s is now under 20 every day, and I block of an hour of writing time no matter what.
- Don’t be Afraid
How you ask? You can’t just not be afraid suddenly right? Partly right, my anxiety ebbs and flows, but by talking with cultural healers and helpers at the Friendship centre where I teach day care music, I’ve come to realize that my fear is really control based. When I realized that control isn’t (or doesn’t have to be) the goal, I became much more able to express myself with words again.
Writing, to some extent is giving up control. Blogging, is probably the lowest end of the scale, I can go back and edit, un publish, or delete all together. A Guest blog is a little more out there, once it’s in the hands of your host, it’s all under their fingertips of control. The further out you go, anthology submission, self-publishing a book, submitting an essay, thesis or research proposal, the less control you have. The fear of losing that control made me uber-careful about what I said on paper (which is a good thing), but ultra opposed to ever showing anyone, anything I’d written, ever again.
- Breath, Laugh, and Live
One of the things I’m learning, is how to live and be in the world again. For me, when we look at the root of a word like indigenous, or aboriginal, it means a way of being, walking and living in the world as well as it’s more well known meaning of first-peoples of a land.
Learning to breathe again, literally take a breath, pause, in-hale and exhale has been both a chore and a joy. My last excursion into the world of full-time work almost broke me, and I had to take time to see and really look at the world again. Walk with my head up, look at more than my feet, meet people eye-to-eye (when necessary, that’s a hard one).
You see, part of the reason I wasn’t writing, was I wasn’t living, I wasn’t seeing or allowing new information to get in. I didn’t take note of the beauty in a single moment, or pain and release at the end of someone’s life. I wasn’t present, and I’d removed myself from experiencing the world.
I didn’t laugh, and laughter, genuine uncontrollable laughter makes the memory of fear, and loss of control so much easier to bear.
I want to thank Krystol so much for letting me be a guest on her blog today! I hope you enjoyed the post, and find something you can take away from it to help you in your day to day writing. My journey is just beginning, and there are days it feels like a high-speed train, but hey, trains are one of the safest forms of travel. I hope you join me for the ride!
Naimeless grew up in Southern Manitoba quite literally on the 49th parallel, and made Brandon, Manitoba their home after finishing a Music Degree in 2003. They recently returned to the world of academia to complete a Masters in Music Education and have never been more excited or terrified to write in their live. Naimeless has been a restaurant manager, a shoe salesperson, a customer service person of various sorts, editor in chief of The Quill and acquired a few more degrees along the way. They currently work for Novel Publicity and are personal assistant extraordinaire to PK Tyler (Her words! We swear!) to support her dreams of becoming an obscure composer and writer.