Following is a post from May 24, 2008. I had had my blog for several months, but was still finding my way. [And, frankly, I’m still finding my way but the journey is fun. I don’t know that I really want to make my destination.] I’m re-posting for two reasons: (1) to remind myself how quickly time goes by; (2) to remind myself (and perhaps others) that first you write for yourself. Cheers!
This is my new “slogan” for my blog. I know it’s not original, that you can find this phrase in use on thousands of websites (albeit with varied punctuation and case); but, I think the sentiment of the phrase captures why I write, or rather, why I cannot not write. I’ve gone through periods of not writing. I’ve had my dry spells, and, during those times, my sense of self would suffer. I’d feel lost and anxious. Lost because without writing I have no bearings. Anxious because words would still be welling up inside, waiting for an outlet.
My writing really dried up while I was a doctoral student in the social sciences (long story short: I bailed out of the program once all my miserable coursework was completed). Although I was considered a good writer by my professors, I hated the kind of writing I was expected to do. It was tedious, monotonous, one-dimensional. My school was neck-deep in quantitative studies, the kind of studies that attracted federal funding, the kind that reduced hundreds, even thousands of people into one data point. Any student who proposed a qualitative study, one that might involve in-depth interviews of a handful of subjects, would be encouraged to seek their degree elsewhere.
For a fiction writer, this was a lousy place to be, and because I had to struggle so hard to not tell stories in my papers, I eventually became depressed. I knew I had to drop out of the program when I found that I was no longer able to write, that every time I sat in front of my computer and tried again to work on my “specialization” paper, I’d break down and cry. I could never get past the first paragraph.
So I dropped out (unofficially, of course). My road to recovery involved one English course with a wonderfully encouraging professor, two years with a writing mentor, and now this blog. Now I find it difficult to not write whenever I’m on the computer. Now I feel more fully myself than I ever have in my life . . . because I am therefore I write.
What’s your story? What was the worst dry spell or writer’s block that you ever experienced? How did you recover?