How to push through a creative block

Hello, world.

I feel as though I’ve been absent for some time now. The thing is, September and October were a complete blur for me and my need to write was extinguished by a series of, well, craziness.

We packed, we moved, we unpacked. Then, I discovered I had not one but two ovarian cysts. This news was followed by a brief walk through a patch of woods that left me covered front to back with poison ivy for three weeks; it was a nightmare. And then, my dog chased a squirrel into the woods and got speared by a tree branch in the process, resulting in a puncture wound and emergency surgery. My poor girl.

In retrospect, these series of events could have been great fodder for blog posts, but I’ve been unable to create lately. I’ve been feeling blocked. And if I’m being completely honest with myself, I haven’t been feeling like this for just the past two months; it’s more like the last year – or longer. I’ve journaled about it, reflected on it, read books and articles on the topic, but I could not figure out what was at the heart of this creative wall.

To help me uncover what was at the core, a few weeks ago, I turned to an online writing series facilitated by friend and poet Jacinta White. Becoming Undone: Unpacking Life’s Weight helped me identify the things in my life that are weighing me down and keeping me from moving forward. My “A-ha” moment came during the first writing prompt, where we had to write a list poem that began with the line: “Daily I carry … ” Without hesitation, guilt was the first word I scribbled in my notebook.

Photo by Carla Kucinski.

Photo by Carla Kucinski.

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Tag – you’re it


I’ve been tagged. And I’m honored to be “it!”

Thank you, Jacinta White, for tagging me in the Writing Process Blog Tour. For those of you unacquainted with the concept, it’s kind of like a chain letter, but without the threat of something earth-shattering happening to me if I don’t send it to at least 10 friends. This is much more fun and with zero guilt involved.

Here’s how it works: You get tagged, you answer some thoughtful questions about writing and then tag two other bloggers who then repeat the cycle.

On August 21, check out the fashionable and talented Robin Reetz and my witty co-blogger Addison Ore to learn about their writing process. And for the record, this is not a shameless plug to promote Bookends, but an opportunity to highlight Addison as a writer. She can hold her own. Honest.

So here we go … Some thoughts on writing.

What are you working on?  
Right now, I’m working on trying to make writing part of my daily life again. One way I’m doing that is through this blog with my dear friend Addison. I thought partnering with her on this creative venture would be like having an exercise buddy – someone to hold you accountable and keep you motivated.

December 2009 331How does your work differ from others of its genre?  
I write from my heart. Most of my writing is creative nonfiction, a genre I’m drawn to because of its raw nature and honesty and its ability to emotionally connect with others; that’s always my goal. I want people to feel things deeply. There’s power in sharing the personal. It can inspire others to share their experiences and spark a dialogue. At the end of the day, we all crave human connection and writing provides a perfect vehicle to satisfy that craving.

Why do you write what you do?  
I write because it makes me appreciate life. It helps me pay attention to the details. It allows me to express myself in ways that I otherwise couldn’t. I write simply because I have the desire. I have a bit of an obsession with wanting to record the world around me because I don’t ever want to forget how the sky looked that one summer in Ohio or what my grandmother’s hand felt like in mine.

How does your writing process work? 
I’m one of those people who has trouble shutting their brain off. I’m constantly processing and analyzing. I search for meaning every day in my life, which serves as my pipeline for writing material. I live inside my head a lot, so I keep a journal to help me empty my brain and process things on paper. I also keep several notebooks that I free-write in. I find my writing flows easier from me when I put pen to paper as opposed to hammering away on a keyboard. I sometimes play soft music in the background while I write (right now I’m listening to the “Amelie” soundtrack) and I usually have a warm beverage nearby. Writing prompts are my best friend. They’re often my go-to when I need to wake up my brain or just feel compelled to write but don’t have a particular topic in mind. Writing prompts often lead me to something larger and take me to a place I never expected to go.