Category: Writing

The Main Reason I’ve Suffered from Writer’s Block in the Past

The Main Reason I’ve Suffered from Writer’s Block in the Past

With all that’s been written over the years about writer’s block—what it is, why it is, how to overcome it—I have found one thing that seems to kill off my creative juices more than anything…

 

My emotions.

 

***

When I started writing my first book, 12 chapters into the rough draft, I had someone close to me look it over.

“You have NO business writing. This isn’t right, and you’re not right!” This person exclaimed. And, yes, the No was emphasized.

My friend’s statement and the way it was delivered, absolutely crushed me.

I had no idea at the time that my friend was dealing with some deep issues that my fictional book brought up.

But, deep-rooted issues aside, their statement effected me so much that I stopped writing completely for almost 8 months.

For some miraculous reason, I didn’t throw out my rough draft but kept it saved in a file, tucked away on my desktop.

***

Later, once I got over myself, I finally finished my rough draft. During the editing portion, I went through a divorce and had a death in the family within months of each other.

Mentally and emotionally, I was a mess. Except for daily entries in my journal—to help keep my sanity—I stopped production on the book for several months.

***

Nearly a year later, I was in the process of editing my book again (last pass before shipping it off to an editor) when I got involved with someone. In a very short time, I gave up my self-esteem and everything else to the relationship.

The person I surrendered to used me and lied throughout our relationship. She even admitted that she had done so, blaming confusion with life on her part.

I had given up my self-esteem to someone else and had ignored all the warning signs, thinking I was different and that heartache, being lied to, and being discarded like a dirty rag was something that couldn’t happen to me.

I learned some valuable lessons then from that dark detour about myself, relationships, and my unhealthy views on life in general.

But, I also stopped writing again for several months during that time.

***

In Og Madino’s book, The Greatest Salesman in the World, the 7th Scroll that the protagonist, Hafid, needed to study, commit to memory, and place into a daily practice was this: ‘…I will be the master of my emotions.”

Some would argue that it’s just a fictional book.

I will argue that fiction makes more impact in our lives than we give credit for.

Concepts and ideas from fictional works can speak to us deeply and even change our lives.

Take a look at Tolkien’s work from Lord of the Rings for exampleYou’ll see the phrase, Not all those who wander are lost, plastered on everything from tire covers on Jeeps to stickers on notebooks.

The saying turned into a cult following, and people rallied behind that phrase to turn it into a battle cry to get out and live a more adventurous life.

It also caught the greedy eye of marketers. Advertisers to this day still make money off its merchandise.

Back to Og’s book…

In order for Hafid to become the greatest salesman in the world, he needed to practice daily, mastering his emotions.

This has been a struggle my whole life.

Especially in the anger department. The depression department. The lack of self-confidence, self-esteem, and every other self-department.

It’s been exhausting.

***

Along the way, I’ve noticed something.

It’s not so much writer’s block from sitting in front of a blank screen, it’s been the emotional health, or lack thereof, that has taken a toll on my writing over time.

I published my first book almost a year ago now. Since then, I’ve written and published a non-fiction book, and am currently working on the second book in the series that the first book I wrote kicked off.

In the process, I’ve focused more and more on making sure that my emotional health is, well, healthy.

Here are a few things I do that have boosted my emotional health…

  • I don’t hang out with those who are incessantly complaining about someone, or something—never a good thing to say, never a good report to give. This is different than helping a friend out who is going through a tough gig in life!
  • I do NOT farm out my emotions to any one now. I have finally decided—unfortunately, it took me most of my life to figure out—that I don’t need any one person to make me happy. I don’t needsomeone else to make me feel good about myself.
  • I stopped being around those, including family members, who are dismissive, disrespectful, and demeaning of my life or the decisions I’ve made in life. Our lives are unique in that we all need to figure out the path to travel on. I have found nothing but confusion, frustration, and emotional brokenness when I’ve tried to live according to someone else’s expectations.
  • I have begun to give my mind more positive and fruitful things to think on. For me, I usually try to memorize a scriptural verse for the day. If we don’t give our minds something worthy to chew on, it’ll run rabid with no rhyme or reason on its own, which in turn wreaks havoc on our emotions.
  • Being more mindful about my thoughts, what triggers certain thoughts, and working on bringing my thoughts back to the moment. This could be grouped with the above point, but it does merit its own attention. By not allowing myself to daydream on conversations not happened, past hurts, or future catastrophes, if find the day goes by more peacefully.
  • Grateful. When I feel the tinge of bitterness, depression, relational anxiety, I catch myself and think about what I’m grateful for today. No matter how small it is, there’s always something I can be grateful for, and every time, it helps me gain a hold on my emotions from tanking through the floor.

***

Negative emotions don’t just slam writing into the trash, it kills just about anything creative in our lives.

And, you may not be a writer. You don’t have to be.

Focusing on emotional health will transform the quality of your life.


Photo from Pixabay

Ugh

Ugh

Did you know the word Ugh in the google keyword planner tool shows that it averages 10K to 100K searches a month!?

The keywords, Writing blues, or Writing doldrums have no search result metrics. Ugh!

When I started writing this, all I could think of was Ugh!

At least that’s how I’ve been feeling lately about my writing.

I mean, it’s there, deep inside, but when I sit down and type away, it feels like it’s flat and lifeless. I hate that.

Maybe I’m trying too hard.

I even took a little break from editing the second book in the series here. I just felt like I needed a break.

But, that’s how I am. I go, go, go, go, until there’s nothing left of me, then I burn out, and go do something else. Only thing is, writing has become this habit that I must everyday–it’s hard to explain.

I don’t write publishable stuff everyday, but I do journal everyday and usually pen about 800 words in there, but those are for my eyes only. It helps. It’s helped for a few years now too.

Yet, I get frustrated because I feel this internal thing pushing me to write and edit and repeat, but at the moment, everything seems a bit…well, ugh.

In the past I’d just push through the feeling and maybe I should. I am pushing through it in a way, like today I decided to update the about page here and write this short post.

Then I need to finish up my weekly post I’ll publish tomorrow on my website https://christianmartinjr.com … why? Because of a self-inflicted deadline that I post every Friday there.

Well, for now, I think I’m doing something I’ve never really given myself permission to do and that is to cut back, relax, and chill a bit from pushing myself so hard on this writing project.

Honestly, it feels good to do this and to do it without self-guilt is quite the learned thing.

Hang in there if you feel the Ugh tugging on you. It’s okay to slack a little and let the creative juices refill the well.

Small Taste of Chapter 1…Shadows of Matthew

Small Taste of Chapter 1…Shadows of Matthew

Finally made it into Chapter 10 today…editing that is. Er, first pass of editing, I should say.

Thought I’d share a glimpse into the world that Matt and Alie are about to find themselves in and the unique dynamic that’s growing.
Keep in mind that this is still rough around the edges and the manuscript is a bit raw, but I hope you enjoy…

Oh, and Matt is still in the hospital.


She really knew what to say to soothe my nerves. When I came too, Jake and Anne had left and Alie stayed most of the night with me. She simply held my hand while I dozed in and out of sleep. I have no idea what time she left in the night to go home, but I remember waking up in the middle of the night missing her sitting next to me. I remember feeling alone and a bit afraid, though not sure what of. Felt like a little kid walking into a dark basement to go find some toy or something and being scared out of my mind of the dark just before switching on the lights.


Alie came into my room a little before lunch time the next day. She walked right up to the side of the bed and told me good morning in such a soft voice that I swear I was going to melt right into the sheets. Then…she planted her lips on mine and I thought I was going to explode with emotion. Honestly, I don’t think I remember feeling hot adrenalin flood my veins in what seems like a life time: adrenalin from a vehicle pursuit is way different from when a beautiful woman that you’re falling for kisses you like she wants you.


As always, any and all feedback is welcomed in the comments below or email.

Thanks

Editing is like…Living, Dying, & Repeating!

Editing is like…Living, Dying, & Repeating!

Living life is so much like editing a book.

Here’s why…

It’s been a slow go today.

Actually…a slow go the entire past month.

Why? Simple…

Editing.

Ugh!

Don’t get me wrong, I love to write. I write every day in my journal—things that may never be published; and, some that will. Who knows for sure?

However, editing is a much different beast than simply doing AIC (Ass in Chair) time and going at a fresh blank screen with the creative juices flowing.

Editing is like taking on the beast you’ve created. An unruly beast at that.

The project at hand? Book 2 in the Catharsis Awakening Series. I just made it into Chapter 5 today; editing that is.

Speaking of beasts…

Ever see the Tom Cruise movie Edge of Tomorrow?

The tagline goes like this: Live, Die, Repeat—and that describes the editing process perfectly.

It’s a kickass movie where Cruise plays a military officer named Cage that’s never seen combat, and the whole world goes to war against an alien invasion.

Cage is forced into a combat role but it gets worse: every time he dies, he starts over and repeats the day he enters combat.

The upside of Cage’s situation is that he remembers the previous day and how he got killed on the battlefield, which he learns from his “mistakes” and avoids repeating the same thing over…um, getting killed.

The cool thing is, once Cage learns how to avoid a bomb blast, gunfire, or just simply being eaten by a mob of aliens, he moves ahead in the story to the next day.

Each time he dies, he learns, and he moves on, eventually to lead his troops to victory and saves the world in the end.

Whew.

Like I said, kickass movie.

Editing is kickass. Um…actually, more like kickin’ my ass because it feels like I die every day I look at the manuscript.

I read the text, then I rewrite, only to find out that I need to rewrite a section far earlier to explain what the heck I just rewrote. It’s like Cage being gobbled up by aliens.

Then, it seems like I’m stuck in the same place in the manuscript, just like I’m starting out on day 1 of the battlefield.

I tell ya…writing is a lonely place!

A lot like life.

Waking up and trudging through the same material just to rewrite it over and over and over, then to rewrite something else to help make sense of the thing you rewrote.

Does that make sense?

Each death we incur brings us a little bit closer to conquering our alien world and hence why the tears when an author finally holds up the first copy of their work at the end.

But this isn’t just about writing. It’s about anything in life you’re fighting.

Like when you conquer some nasty alien you’ve been fighting what seems like for a whole lifetime, no matter how small of a victory.

We make mistakes, we learn, we pivot, we change, we gain ground…no matter how incremental it is.

Don’t give up!

Keep at it.

We need you.

The world needs you.

For heaven’s sake…don’t quit!

First Draft…Done!

First Draft…Done!

Alright, it’s been awhile in the making but book 2, Shadows of Matthew, is done; well, at least the first draft.

As a writer, getting that first draft completed is huge. There’s long hours ahead in the editing, rewriting, cutting, adding, rewriting…um…you get the picture.

But! First draft is finished and I took a week off from the manuscript to breathe a bit. Starting tomorrow, it’s onto doing some serious developmental editing.

The editing process is extremely tedious but I do enjoy it. Yeah, I know, sounds sadistic, but it’s pretty incredible to take a big hunk of granite you just plopped down and begin to chisel away with your heart and soul and watch it take shape into a piece of art.

If you’re a new author, take advantage of the editing process and think of it as your time to sculpt a thing of beauty. Embrace it. Once you’ve made that transition in your brain from, “This sucks.” To that of, “Wow, how cool is this? I get to sculpt this baby now!” The process of a whole takes on a new light and it’ll energize your writing…well, editing that is.

~ Cheers