How Massage Opened My Writer's Block
Writer's Block a/k/a Bad Atttitude
I’ve been in a writing funk. Awhile.
Much longer than I care to admit aloud, not to mention publish globally. But it’s out there now. Foreva!
It began with writing rejections received at a Writer’s Conference last winter, the seed growing slowly and quietly, unnoticed in darkness. “You’re not good enough”, “you’re too unknown to write non-fiction”, “you need a larger platform, your readership is too small for a publisher to invest in you.” These are only a sampling of the thoughts attacking my creativity.
Continuing throughout spring, the funk didn’t inhibit my blogging commitment, but I gave two of my book projects the cold shoulder. Froze them out like a critical mother-in-law. Anytime they’d come to mind, I’d slam the door with the thought, “It’s too hard. Too much effort required to market and why bother, anyway, just to sell a few hundred copies?”
Summer arrived in sunhat and sunscreen, ready for vacations and water activities. I travelled and busied myself raising Monarch butterflies as a creative outlet while trying not to think about either of my two almost finished manuscripts. Try to imagine Book as a literal thing. Although invisible, I could see her. I knew she was present, like a cat patiently waiting my attention, silently watching me. Writers see things others don’t, right?
We Have Met the Enemy and He is Us
One particular Monday I endured a day-long headache, tense muscles and a clear calendar. I could do what I wanted – nothing. After two errands, I spent the morning lost in the pages of a novel. My bliss. Some minor chores and cooking dinner moved the day from a total loss to the “at least I accomplished something” column.
But I didn’t write. I couldn’t if I wanted to. My eyes and head hurt too much.
Tuesday arrived, toting self-doubt like a well-worn satchel. My valiant efforts to drowned Book by ignoring failed. It surfaced like a buoy from a watery grave. I focused on all the negatives, each draining more inspiration until I felt empty. Void of creative desire, I could not see my purpose. Fellow writers understand the solitary nature writing requires. Few non-creatives do. Understanding lies in the company of fellow writers, making socialization and professional group membership essential.
So why didn’t I just phone an author friend, you ask?
Because I’m stubborn and prideful. Because it’s difficult for a strong person to admit, “Hey, I’m in a writing funk. Hey, I’m fighting depression, here. I should know better but I’m not handling writing rejection well and it’s beating me up, real good. My voice and motivation have been affected.”
Because I’m an introvert.
Introverts tote most of our emotions inside unseen backpacks. Mental rehearsal of conversations and recalling events contribute to our writing skill. We are detail lovers who create visuals by combining words in perfect sequence. Managing the writing life requires adept handling of the gift of sensitivity – by not turning it against oneself, rather using it to draw the reader in.
I realized my thoughts had become the problem. They were toxic.
"We have met the enemy and he is us." -- Walt Kelly, POGO cartoonist
POGO Says it Best
Wednesday brought my regular massage appointment. It’s a therapeutic decision I made this year to manage back pain from an accident. It increases circulation, loosens tight muscles and I leave happier!
LMT Wanda kneaded my tense shoulders, carefully working out each knot. Her strong, deft hands eased the kinks in my sore lumbar region. The instrumental melodies literally melted the anxious funk I carried into the room.
Because she is a safe place, I confided my angst as her healing hands moved smoothly over my skin. I’d prayed about it, explaining my situation to God, but not a person. She listened and spoke encouragement to me.
Truthfully, I can’t recall much she said. One sentence, however, resonated. “Write it down. Write it all down, even the pain and discouragement you’re feeling. It could help someone.”
7 Reasons You Should Be Getting More Massages
- 7 reasons you should be getting more massages
Getting a massage is a pretty decadent thing to do. But did you know that there are actually tons of reasons to…
The Lesson of the Masseuse
Here is what I gleaned from LMT Wanda about ending writers block:
- Introverts: When depressed or in a funk, call or meet someone personally. Have a conversation to figure out where you’re stuck. Introverts need another human to draw us out and help us process life. Oh, and talk to God about it. Psalm 46:10 is a strength for you, so make yourself reach out to people.
- Extroverts: Be quiet! Yep, shut the talking machine down for a reboot. Since talking comes so easily to you, force yourself to schedule regular quiet times to hear God’s voice (Psalm 46:10).
- Everyone must guard their thought life. Neuroscientific research is confirming daily what we knew all along: What you are thinking every moment of every day becomes a physical reality in your brain and body, affecting your physical and mental health. These thoughts collectively form your attitude and it’s your attitude and not your DNA that determines much of the quality of your life.[i] Scientifically known as epigenetics, (the real, physical, electromagnetic, quantum and chemical flow in the brain that switch genes on or off in a positive or negative direction), spiritually our attitude is the enactment of Deuteronomy 30:19, Proverbs 23:7, Psalm 63:6 and Philippians 4:8.
- Consider what these scriptures say about our thought life: “This day I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live,” (Deut. 30:19 NIV); “So as he thinks in his heart, so is he,” (Proverbs 23:7 NKJV); “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2); “When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches, “ (Psalm 63:6 NKJV) and Philippians 4:8 – “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
“If you realized how powerful your thoughts are, you would never think a negative thought.” -- Dr. Caroline Leaf
5. Schedule a therapeutic massage, not the illicit variety!
Not a deep or lofty lesson, but heart-felt.
[i] Dr. Caroline Leaf, Switch on Your Brain: The Key to Peak Happiness, Thinking and Health, Baker Books, 2013.
I pray that my transparency helps you see the root of your creative funk and gives you the courage to halt it. Any good in this post should be credited to Wanda’s skillful, licensed therapeutic technique and words that released the toxins plaguing my body and soul. Her loving acceptance and friendship is a treasured gift.
How Do You Keep Your Words Flowing?
Fellow authors, I'm interested in your tried and true techniques for keeping your words flowing. Share in the comments, won't you?
© 2017 Kate Leach