Sorry to be crude and remind you about human digestive activity.
No, the past couple of weeks I’ve been struggling through my first bout of writer’s block. And I’ve finally worked past it for the most part, and my friend Seth said that it was like I was no longer mentally constipated. There was no more poop in my head. And I thought that would make an excellent title, so I’m writing this post specifically because I had a good idea for a title, and that’s honestly a super encouraging thing to happen to me, and damn it I’m going to celebrate my shitty title. And the shitty pun I just made about it.
But seriously: writer’s block. It’s a bitch.
If you’ve ever tried to write anything, you know it too. But what’s even more frustrating is, it’s been the kind of writer’s block that keeps me from putting out the words that I know I want to use.
Like… Starting a blog is interesting. It’s a transition into putting yourself out there and letting your work be criticized and all from various groups. It’s a chance to be creative, to develop your written voice, to refine arguments. It’s also kind of a time of high pressure. At least for me it is. But I’ve enjoyed it.
I want to be able to post something every few days. I don’t know if that’s reasonable or not. I have a full time job and I also have a house and two cats and a church and my family and my husband’s family drawing energy and attention from my life. The time I have for writing is small, and I have to be very deliberate about protecting it. And I’m very hard on myself when I don’t meet the arbitrary goal I have for myself.
I also like to write about things that I’m passionate about. A lot of my passion happens in quick bursts during the day, when someone or something happens in my vicinity and I think “Hm, I wonder if….” or “I should write about why that is.” But since I can’t just plop down and crank out 3000 words on a topic at a time, I’ve taken to jotting a prompt or other reminder in a file on my phone for later use.
And I’ve worked up, like, a nice list. I had all these ideas, and it was really energizing.
But for a week now, I’ve sat down and written like 3 drafts about three totally different prompts, and instead of feeling good about my writing voice and feeling energized to write, I just feel like nothing I say is right and everything will be confusing and boring to anyone who bothers to read it and like I’ve done a bad job of constructing an argument, or what have you.
I mean, I wrote 2000 words about my fear of automatic toilets. I wrote this thinking “yeah, this point I’m about to make is really going to feel satisfying!” But when I got to the point I was like “that’s 2000 words of someone’s life I just wasted for absolutely nothing. There is no point to this. Why did I do this. Why would I think this is a good idea.”
(Image credit: Sarah’s Scribbles.)
And then I wrote about how my husband has influenced my speech patterns and that I think it’s probably a nice parallel image for how Jesus influences our behavioral and spiritual patterns, and realized “no shit, that’s like basic middle school stuff, come on.”
And then I wrote about Roy Moore, and that one actually came along (finally) but it took forever and I didn’t really feel like I was the one who wrote it for a while.
But then I had a migraine. But before the migraine set in, I had time to pray. And I know it’s basically the most cliche thing to say, but I think the migraine prayer helped.
For context, I like to pray on paper. I don’t like to pray in my head because, as i learned when I was 8, If I try to pray in my head, I’ll go down a rabbit hole that ends at spongebob, and then I’ll get really invested in retracing the rabbit hole of my cognition, and in the process forget prayer at all. I also don’t like to pray out loud, because I feel like I’m not being myself. Spoken prayer, to me, has always felt a little fake. And if prayer is supposed to be the time when we are most intimate with God, I feel like there’s no room for fakery. So writing is my preferred method. But I haven’t actually prayed in written form for weeks.
I read on reddit once, in a thread where a guy talked about insomnia, that a guy’s therapist told him to look for times of dead silence in his day, or to create them. In our hyper stimulated world, we have so much bombarding our heads that we don’t ever really have time to process it all, so then our brains take the first opportunity to think through things that they can find– even if that opportunity is edging in on valuable sleep time.
Though I’m not sure if I necessarily believe one guy’s paraphrased reddit-parroting of his therapist, I think there’s probably at least a level of truth to that concept. Mindfulness and meditation is a huge trend right now in the self-help world, and I think there’s probably an argument to be made that meditation and mindfulness help you to be more proactive in processing your day-to-day experiences.
But more anecdotally, I think my personal favorite form of processing happens in that written prayer. I try to tell God everything. It started when I was a teenager, but now that I’ve gotten older, I’ve been able to even realize when I’m not telling God something, and I’m starting to be able to pinpoint what I’m hiding. I’m pretty sure I hide things more out of laziness than anything. I mean, at first, the reason I wasn’t praying was simply a lack of well-balanced priorities. I simply wasn’t making the time.
But then it blossomed into “but now i’ll have to deal with the fact that I didn’t make time before and that my priorities were out of whack, and I don’t want to have to deal with that because that will take a long time”. I am so freaking lazy.
In the end, it took a migraine prayer to get me out of it. I knew I wanted to pray, and I was just in that phase of the migraine where I was too stubborn to take any medication or acknowledge that I needed to go into migraine protocol, but just weak enough that I couldn’t pretend to do anything actively productive. So, I suppose out of stubbornness, I opened my notebook.
And it was refreshing to come back to God. I think He went out of his way to remind me of the whole story of the prodigal son, and how the father runs to the repentant son. I think God was trying to make me understand that he just wanted the lines of communication opened again.
But with it, he also sent some wording to fix the Roy Moore piece. I mean, towards the end of the prayer I was dozing off into Migraine Protocol (where I cover my face in blanket and fall asleep and hope that when I wake up it feels better) but I was switching between being fully conscious and trying to put down another sentence, being half conscious and almost seeing the exact sort of voice and words I want for the Roy Moore piece being written out as though I’m writing them (but it’s definitely not just me writing them) and being actually asleep and dreaming about something that I don’t remember anymore.
I could have just been having Migraine Dreams, which I assume would be like regular dreams except when you have a migraine, but it didn’t quite have that Dream Filter on, like most dreams do.
But I think there’s more to it than that. My writing-brain is more where it should be now that my relationship with God is also more where it should be. In a weird way, I think it’s more spiritual to say that while I was praying, God helped my head poop, and that now I’m no longer mentally constipated.
Thank you, Prayer-Laxative.