Saturday, February 23, 2008

My Barrier is a Key

It took me a long time to figure out what my barrier was. I convinced myself it was writers block, then it was having children, then I was too tired, then I had too much to do. I always had a great excuse for why I wasn’t writing. I can still use some of those excuses today.

I’d find myself with a spare hour and instead of writing, I’d be surfing or catching up on the latest posts from my favorite bloggers. I’d be chatting on lists and “reasearching” something. I’d find recipes that I had to print and post on my fridge, the perfect way to get grape juice out of the carpet, new books online to add to my wish list, sites to bookmark and share with my son later… (note: just as I typed that I remembered to go bookmark because it’s a pretty cool site for kids to learn to read… )

I convinced myself that I wasn’t writing because I had all this other stuff to DO. Those were my barriers, the things, the to-do lists, the bits of information out there waiting for me. But they weren’t my barriers.

My barrier was my need for external inspiration. I was searching for something that would point me in the direction of that blank page. Something big that said WRITE ABOUT THIS… or something that would spark the tiniest flame of inspiration that I could tend to and grow into a great big creative fire.

But here’s the rub: we can only ever find the inspiration and the drive inside. Sure there are external motivators. Heck, getting paid is one of them! But they only feed the important, internal engine that drives our creative self. As I was surfing, searching, seeking I was looking for the key to start that engine. That was my barrier, a belief that the key to start my engine was to be found out THERE.

But it’s inside me.

Have you ever lost your keys? Isn’t that the most frustrating thing on the planet? But that’s what it’s like to be a writer who wants to say something but doesn’t know what or where or how or why.

“I gotta get going, I need to be on my way, I have to start… but where the heck are my keys!”

“I have to get this written, how do I start? What am I trying to say? My deadline is looming… where is my key?”

So here’s what I do to overcome my barrier.

I fake it. I get ready to go, I put on my writer clothes and get settled and then I type exactly this:

Smart Title Goes Here

In my intro I want to be smart and sassy, I want to draw a correlation between the reader’s thoughts about being blocked and a common problem that everyone faces.

Something about being blocked…

Interview? Maybe Jodie…

And that’s how I start. I’m rummaging, fumbling, it’s not pretty, I’m a little sweaty and not a happy camper. But soon I spark a little flame. Soon the engine starts to catch. Soon I know exactly what I wanted to say. And it’s not because something outside myself inspired me, it’s because I searched within for the key.


Mary Ellen said...

Heather, I'm on MW with you. This is a great topic.

My barrier is confidence. I keep looking for bolstering from those around me. I like your idea, "My Barrier is my Key."

For me, my faith fuels my confidence. I've got to stay grounded in that and block out negativity, especially when it's coming from my own doubts.

Thanks for the reminder. Instead of seeing the eclipse, I'll try to see the pink glow and know the full moon of my writing life is only temporarily overshadowed by a cloud. It will soon shine through.

Mary Ellen

Serenity Now! said...

It's hard to leave the comfort of praise and encouragement from others!

Especially when we tell our kids "great job, you can do it" all the time!

Jon said...

I remember someone telling me a very long time ago, that what he was looking for he always had, he was just looking in the wrong place.

Jon said...

I remember someone telling me a very long time ago, that what he was looking for he always had, he was just looking in the wrong place.

Linda Sherwood said...

This is a great post, Heather! I had a hard time identifying my barrier too, and I think I had a realization very similar to yours. :-)

Your post really connected for me.

Carolyn Erickson said...

Mary Ellen, I loved and related to your point about faith fueling your confidence.

Praise from others is sooo nice, but I've realized that it rarely boosts my confidence for long. (Sometimes I even feel extra pressure to live up to it.)