Writing to Cure Writer's Block; Immersion Therapy (Humor)
Diving in to the Shark Tank
Today marks a new day for me. I have come to terms with the fact that although I want desperately to succeed as a freelance writer, writing for a living is as terrifying to me as the thought of running blindfolded at full speed in a dense forest at night. Oh, and there are bugs everywhere - the crunchy ones that run really fast and sometimes crawl up your leg. And I'm barefoot.
As you may guess, this poses somewhat of a minor problem. So why are we here? You're joining me for my self imposed intervention. Thank you SO much for coming - I was afraid no one would show up! Feel free to grab a snack and have a seat. This is gonna be some good TV.
We're gonna push this scared little girl blindfolded into the forest to face her fears!
I want to succeed as a writer.
But what is it that's stopping me? It's me. Self saboteur extraordinaire.
Hi! My name is Jessica, and I'm a perfectionist.
So what's the prob, Bob? No bigs, right? Sounds like a good "problem" to have. Welllll….not so much.
I'm sure you may have heard the phrase, "Nobody's perfect." You have possibly also encountered the adage, "Practice makes perfect". Yes? Stay with me here. It's a little game of logic, and although I'm a woman, logic isn't entirely foreign to me (I dedicate at least 10% of my pea-sized brain to attempting to appear that I know how to think logically) So, pea-brain, lady-sense and all, I put 2 and 2 together and get the extremely self-destructive mantra:
"If practice makes perfect, but nobody's perfect…then why practice?
Ah. Do you see it now? ¡Mondo Problemo! Every time I sit down to write, nothing comes. If words do appear, they get swatted away like flies and are backspaced into oblivion right away. Huge blocks of text get the CTRL+X death sentence and even upon merciful second thoughts with a CTRL+Z last minute reprieve from Death Row those low-life cretinous scum-sucking bottom-feeding scoundrels prove themselves unworthy of the pardon. Off with their heads!
I am frozen by the pressure of having to come up with something mind-numbingly amazing. The wrong words make me grumpy as the walls are closing in and it's getting hot and I don't have any room to maneuver to take off my sweater.
It feels like I'm faced with the daily task of beginning my Magnum Opus and it's my last day on earth to prove my life was worth a turd.
And all I want to do is write A HUB. A single hub. Every day. That was my goal; totally shot, crashed and burned, failed and on fire, up in flames and bellowing toxic plumes of black smoke, trying to run for the swimming pool but instead tripping into a puddle of gasoline for the final flamboyant hurrah, because I'm too much of a failure to even remember to "stop, drop, and roll." And also someone had tied my shoelaces together when I wasn't looking (before I caught on fire, probably).
Well, gee. What did I do, set myself up for failure with such a giant expectation? Not really…right? It's not like I'm trying to run a marathon right out of the gate or anything. I'm not trying to publish War and Peace (or its current day rival Harry Potter series ) in a day, but still I thought I was being too unrealistic so I modified my goal to one hub a week. That's totally doable. Totally. So, how did that go, you wonder?
"Yeah, so how'd that work out for ya?"
Giant belly flop. From a ten story building into freshly poured concrete. Shattered bones, stuck in the mud, cement set before the ambulance could rescue me. Easy burial though, since the cement truck was already there and everything. Nobody even missed me because I was such a huge disappointment, having never been able to write one solitary stinkin' hub a week (that nobody was gonna read anyway).
Identify and Conquer
As you might have guessed, this has been eating away at me for some time. I want to write. But I don't write. I'm too afraid to write because I worry it won't be good enough or interesting enough or socially-bookmarkable enough. What could be worse than spending hours writing something and publishing online and <insert crickets chirping here>…nobody reads it. For a writer trying to earn a living by writing online, you can imagine that it's devastating.
"I have a problem."
Admitting I have a problem is the first step towards a solution. I have identified my quest and am on my way to conquer the Minotaur, that smelly foul beast lurking in a puddle of its own muck, lording over its Bog of Eternal Stench as it laughs at me for trying to find my way through the Labyrinth to save my baby brother from the Goblin King. (It is possible I have mixed some of my references but I'm going with it anyway.)
The Road to Recovery
Oh, you might say to yourself, THIS hub is a way to bust through the labyrinth walls and conquer the beast. You might be right. Ok you ARE right.
I am writing about my writer's block in order to cure my writer's block. And it feels like it might be working.
I am taking a stand against this crazy self-imposed torture and freeing myself up to write honestly, with grit, with lumps, with truth. From the gut, where all the good stuff is. Because not only is perfection a lie, but NOT living my life the way I want to live it is a horrible, terrible, no good, very bad way to live life at all. And that's just not an option!
Freelance writing is my key to freedom. In short: I HAVE to succeed as a writer. Otherwise I will be forced to go back to working for someone who doesn't understand me, or appreciate me, or value any of my ideas, treat me with respect, or even let me spend the last few hours with my dying cat. Succeeding at this is my only hope for a redeeming Act II.
1.) I am the only one imposing these ridiculous standards on my writing. Just. ME.
I'm my own boss, which seems like it would be blissful, but it turns out I'm the crazy boss from hell.
I work all the time, but nothing's ever good enough. Start over. Rewrite. Rewrite. REWRITE! Forget taking a lunch break until you get it done. Scrap it all. Back to the drawing board. Ugh! You call yourself a writer?! What have you even accomplished this week? Nothing? You're fired! You'll never work on the web again!
2.) There are gazillions of writers out there with worse grammar and spelling and less impressive vocab skills and more experience and published novels and regular speaking gigs and no sense of humor who make truckloads more money than I do. By writing. That's a huge wake up call -- Who gives a hot damn flying fuzzy duck about that snuff anyway?
Get OVER it and just write. That's what writers do.
3.) If I enjoy writing about something then I should just write about it. Writing should be fun for me. And if it's fun for me, then it will be fun for people to read, and so they probably will read it. Everybody wins! I mean come on, if my hub on Why I'm in Love with my Dual Flush Toilet is one of my best hubs then I should take a cue from it that writing the way I think and speak works for me. The way I tell stories is one of the things my friends love about me. Writing as if I'm telling an interesting story to my best friend is fun for people to read. Why would I try to fight that??
Immersion Therapy for a Phobia of Butterflies
Accidental Genius: Using Writing to Generate Your Best Ideas, Insight, and Content
Prescription: Immersion Therapy
Immersion therapy is a technique used to help patients with extreme phobias to lessen and overcome their fears by exposing them repeatedly to the things of which they are so afraid. As a phobia is specifically an irrational fear, it makes sense to show someone who is deathly afraid of sheep that the horrible death they can't help imagining of being suffocated to death by their wool every time they see or think about one is not a realistic danger. An example of immersion therapy in this context would be to put the terrified person into an enclosed pen with a sheep or two for several agonizing minutes, with the person's consent, of course.
Hopefully after a session or two with increasing numbers of sheep being introduced into the enclosed pen for longer amounts of time, the terror-stricken individual would become less and less afraid of sheep. Of course, it would be ideal if the person were also to avoid being accidentally trampled by those sheep in a freak incident during treatment, as that would likely cause an irrevocable fear of sheep to return. And that therapist would totally be out of a job.
*Please note that swimming in shark-infested waters would NOT be a recommended treatment for someone with a shark phobia.
Write to conquer writer's block.
Genius. This idea of "Immersion Therapy" to overcome my block came to me while working through some of the suggested exercises in , an amazing book by Mark Levy whose purchase will undoubtedly prove to be life-changing. I can't express how long it's been since I've been able to just 'free flow' and let loose with my writing. Accidental Genius
I am only about 1/3 of the way through the book, and it has already taught me so many ways to help my writing grow. I had quite forgotten the importance of 'warming up' with writing exercises. In fact, this hub itself is born of a "free writing" technique from the book which helped me discover and accept that it was fear and the expectation of perfection that was holding me back, (and not just ADD).
Thanks for reading!
I appreciate you sitting in on my little therapy session. I sure learned a lot, and I hope you did too! What do you think of using writing itself as a cure for writer's block? Do you suffer from writer's block too?
I would love to hear from you. Drop me a note in the comments section below!
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