Forget Writer’s Block, Let’s Talk About Life Block
In my last post I kind of danced around this idea of having what I’ve come to realize is Life Block.
Oh, wait, you’ve never heard of Life Block?
Well look, you know what writer’s block is…
Life Block is writer’s block…but with life.
It’s the feeling of mild paralysis, of being stuck. Not stuck in a specific arena, necessarily, but simply stuck within life’s general parameters—maybe because you don’t feel like moving forward, and maybe because you don’t know where to go.
Allow me to explain…
How to Hit Life Block
Sometimes we “creatives” get a little overwhelmed with ideas. Fanciful is an adjective that I considered inserting before ideas just now.
I didn’t, though, because while there are often fanciful ideas in the mix, it’s often the fanciful ones that bring the most glory, so it doesn’t make sense to disparage the process.
(Anybody remember that time we put a man on the moon?)
I’m going to write this post because I’m hoping I’m not alone out here in Life Block world. Perhaps you can relate and make me feel like not so much of a…big baby?
We’re nearing a year that I decided to leave acting in Los Angeles and (more-or-less) devote myself to writing.
In that year, I’ve visited over ten cities hoping to find one that beckoned me to stay, I’ve launched (and often abandoned) a couple handfuls of projects, I’ve very nearly finished my book, I’ve felt supremely ecstatic and supremely terrified, and I have, for the most part, been pretty happy about it all.
Still, embarking on a career path where each brick is laid only when (and if) I take the next step, I’ve often felt as though the future is very, very opaque.
I’m not going to say “dark,” because indeed I don’t feel like it is dark (yet?), but the simple fact of not being able to see the future at all is mosquito buzz annoying at best and car crash discouraging at worst.
I don’t know how I’ll make money, where I’ll be living, or if any of the past year’s efforts will result in any sort of reward. There is a lot of faith going into all this stuff and it’s coming from a girl who has nearly always been agnostic.
When I left Los Angeles, I thought the path would become much more clear as I moved along.
Which is fine, really. Even if I thought I knew what the future held, that too could go completely pear-shaped.
But sometimes it’s like choosing to move forward is the equivalent of choosing to stick my hand into a mangy, mossy black hole beckoning from the side of a tree.
What am I going to find?? A chomping slimy rat thing or the key to Narnia? (I know, I know, the entrance to Narnia had nothing to do with keys in trees.)
I could blame lots of things for the slowness of my actions lately, but really, the only thing to blame here is Life Block.
To explain, I’ll talk about writing.
When we have writer’s block, it’s usually either because
1. We are not informed enough on the subject at-hand
2. We’re fearful of the finished product (often subconsciously)
3. We’re simply too disinterested to put in the work.
How to Hit Life Block…In the Face
My own brand of Life Block is some blend of the three, but suffice it to say that there is only one way to deal with each:
I have lived in a state of hesitation now for too many days. If it is that I am not informed enough on how I would actually like to live, I must begin exploring options by going to a place and getting my feet planted. In the writer’s world, this is research.
If it is a matter of being fearful toward the possibility of failure, I must remind myself that I can’t control outcomes, I can only do my best with every present moment. In the writers world, we do this by holding true to that which flows from desk-bound fingers and ignoring the dread of judgment.
If it is a matter of not being willing to sit my butt down and finish projects, I must simply make the decision to just do things. In the writer’s world, this is showing up to the desk—no matter what— and sitting there for as long as it takes for the fingers to begin moving.
“Don’t wait for the muse…he’s a hardheaded guy who’s not susceptible to a lot of creative fluttering. This isn’t the Ouija board or the spirit-world we’re talking about here, but just another job like laying pipe or driving long-haul trucks. Your job is to make sure the muse knows where you’re going to be every day from nine ’til noon or seven ’til three.”
-Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
Life Block captures us.
We are all, at times, frozen in inaction when the prospect of moving forward is simply too incomprehensible, too bleak, or too perilous.
All I can say is this:
There is a very specific thing one should not do when lost in a maze: remain still.
So here I am, once blocked, now moving. Let’s hope it sticks.
What are your Life Blocks? I know that in the “normal” world, most people are able to fluidly move from education, to job, to family, etc. without getting all blocked-up. But as you may have gathered, I’m living a less-clear route.
Can you relate?
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