I’ve been thinking about my reluctance to write. I used to think it was garden-variety writer’s block, and it seemed very clearly connected to stress: the normal stressors at home; the pressure of having an agent and the expectations that went along with it; physical restrictions, such as migraines. Then there are little bullshit reasons, like not having a suitable writing space (though what that might be I haven’t figured out yet).
I feel like an asshole, knowing other people write in the face of greater pressures and still being unable somehow to overcome my piddly ones. But the one thing I’ve known the entire time is that it’s a mental block. The stress isn’t only an excuse, it’s a real reason. What I haven’t known is why stress shuts me down.
So the reason I’m finally writing about this is because I think I've placed another piece, possibly the most important piece, of my psychological puzzle.
Now, I’ve mentioned the fear of success in passing in previous reflections on writer’s block, but I’ve never taken it seriously. I mean, how douchey does fearing success sound? “I’m so good it scares me.” Right. But last night I was telling my kids how I didn’t apply myself in college, a typical parent’s warning to learn from my mistakes. All night the memory nagged me, the memory of what it felt like to choose to skip voice lessons that last semester, to avoid going to the piano practice rooms (and then when I got there to study history instead of playing scales), to be glad to excuse my slacking by pointing to my full-time job.
And it felt familiar. Well yeah, of course it’s familiar because I went through it, but it felt recently familiar. And then I made the connection. It’s the same thing I do today with writing. The same reluctance to begin. The same restlessness when I finally sit down to write. The same anxiety about what I should be doing as opposed to what I am doing, and it doesn’t seem to matter what those two things are. In fact, they switch places regularly.
Once I realized this connection I started to make others. I’ll go into those in the next post. This is a biggie. I hope I can see it through.