Perils of Writing: A Quest to Conquer

Ever heard of "writer's block"? It's a tragic state for those whose profession or self-expression requires writing as a way to further one's career or growth, yet the task of writing has come to an impasse--whether in productivity or creativity.

The image is of a blank writing pad which shows the tabs of previously torn pages

As far back as I can remember, I have been a great writer. Everything from term papers in college, to book chapters, research presentations, proposals, and even to erotica, I can honestly say that I am proud of what I write--though I may not recognize it at the time. I have a gift for words, in both writing and speaking.

But, it has been 10 years since I began struggling with writing. It was with the most arduous and seemingly important writing of my life: my doctoral thesis. Even now it seems to bring up a lot of wickedly disparaging demons, which I have battled in one form or another since completing my graduate studies. Those demons have grown stronger and more paralyzing than ever.

In the past two years, I have amassed innumerable post-it notes and legal pad pages, random scribbles in notebook pages, and side notes on book margins and printed handouts with ideas for what I can write about. This, in addition to a seemingly never ending list on my phone notes app, filled with topics that I can write and speak on, expertly and eloquently--which I labeled it my "Bestseller List." And yet, when it comes time to the actual writing to expand on my thoughts, deep fear and total paralysis has set in. The demons begin to chime in disdainfully: “Who are you to write about that?” “Nobody is going to read what you write.” “Other people know more about that subject than you.” “Why would anyone look to you for knowledge or wisdom?" And then there's the quiet yet persistent voice that asks, "What if nobody reads what you write? Or worse... what if nobody cares?"

My perils of writing have not been about writing, at all. They are also not about not writing--though the lack thereof is frustrating, because I yearn for a space for self-expression. My perils are about self-judgment, self-defeat, self-sabotage, self-worth, perfectionism, fear of judgment, and avoidance--the invisible internal enemies that have been injuring me and holding hostage my gift for words for far too long.

Beneath all of this struggle has been an echo of words that I heard from many faculty and colleagues while painfully and painstakingly writing my dissertation: "no one will ever read your dissertation." It wasn't intended as a personal attack on my writing. It was intended as the passing of common knowledge that this act of writing is a rite of passage that all graduate students must overcome in order to reach completion. "Perfect is the enemy of good" and "A done dissertation is better than a perfect dissertation" were other benign words of wisdom shared with me. Well, now I understand that this echo struck me in a disorienting way: what is the point of writing, at all, then? If 300+ pages of writing and sharing the expert knowledge that I accumulated, analyzed, and synthesized in the course of 7 long years of learning and research was never to be read, why would anybody read anything else that I wrote?

Why, especially, would they read anything that I wrote on a less-than-expert level of my knowledge? Who would read anything that I have to write about personal growth? What about healing emotional and mental health? What about parenting? Relationships? Education? Or, well, life? Who am I to write about authenticity, confidence, and power?

I will tell you who I am: I am a remarkable gem. I have been on an eternal quest to conquer myself and my circumstances, as far back as I can remember. I am an absolute badass when it comes to mastering myself and empowering myself while slaying obstacles and freeing myself from invisible cages. I do not give my power away to my doubts and fears, any more than I would give my power away to another human. I transcend boundaries. And I will transcend this one, too.

In fact, I am transcending it with this post.

How is your mind holding you hostage from what you yearn to do? What are the fears and doubts that are on "replay" in your mind in the areas where you want to move forward?

Are you ready to free yourself with me?

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