My youngest daughter Ella gave me a sticker yesterday, a little picture of Elmo. She said, “That’s Grumpy Elmo.” I am fairly certain it was nothing personal, but still, it struck a chord. I have not been writing. When I don’t write, I feel thwarted, frustrated, and, yes, grumpy. Then I write, and I feel better almost instantly.
A good friend of mine recently returned to the Flathead Valley after a long time away. She is also a writer, has been published in various places, and is about to publish a book this fall (hurray!). Last week we grabbed a bluebird day to ski for a few hours. As we dangled our skis off the chairlift and stuck our faces in the rare, appreciated sunshine, we talked about writing, among other things. My friend said, “I don’t believe in writer’s block. I write when I have something to say. If I don’t have anything to say, why bother?”
I agreed with her, but I also mentioned my recent experience. I have not wanted to write. And, when I contemplated any sort of writing activity, including blogging, I would feel a range of emotions from mild disdain to outright horror.
“But what if you shut down?” I said. “It is all too easy for me to tune out, and then I feel stuck.” In the past few months, it has shocked me how quickly I began making excuses, how quickly I stopped making time to write, how quickly I shut down after being open to ideas. Because if I’ve learned anything from my past year of blogging, it is that I can find the time, motivation, and ideas. Better yet, I’ve seen how it helps my teaching, my writing, and my general state of mind.
I don’t think I get writer’s block either. Instead, I set up roadblocks. I position my colorful rainbow of excuses (too tired, too busy, nothing to say) and let them go to work for me. It’s so easy to get off track. But it’s just as easy to knock down my roadblocks, to simply sit down and write, and it feels better.
I don’t necessarily want to blog forever, but it’s okay for now. After taking a month off, I realize that until I figure out my next step, blogging helps me maintain discipline, remain consistent, and stay open. It may be the path of least resistance, but as long as I pay attention and explore other possibilities, this work is better than no work.
I know better than to wait for inspiration; I am just trying to pay attention again to the world, trying to reflect on what is meaningful, trying to keep learning. I am trying to stay open to whatever comes my way. That’s all I can do. But I’d sure prefer a Happy Elmo sticker next time. Maybe that’s the motivation I needed.