Recently, an old friend moved in. He showed up one night, begging for a place to stay. "I promise, its only for the night. You won't even notice me! I'll be out by morning." This is someone I've known a long time and I've heard this line before. I should have said no and closed the door. Foolishly, I didn't. It wasn't long before I realized my mistake. Today turned into tomorrow, which turned into two weeks, which turned into a month. Suddenly, I'm stepping over empty pizza boxes, finding foreign hairs in my sink and seeing very weird recommendations in my Netflix queue. What was happening? I tried to get him to leave, but he wouldn't move. He gave excuse after excuse, me falling for each one.
Who was this guy?
Oh, he's my old friend, Writer's Block.
Ohhhhhhhhhhhh my god it sucks. My inability to write something, anything, consumes and completely bums me out. I become bitchy(er), miserable, angry. My anger is always directed at myself, but will be taken out on others around me. It's not fair and I know it.
One night, when I was feeling particularly defeated, I stumbled on an article by Matthew Trinetti titled 3 Pages Every Morning: Why I Started a Daily Ritual and How I Stuck With It.
I didn't want to read it. I knew what it was going to say. "Write every day! Get out of your head! Create!" But, how can I write every day when every day I have this MAJOR ASSHOLE occupying my head?
I clicked on it anyway to read about what I already knew.
Which, as it turns out, is nothing. I know nothing.
I've alway been an over-thinker. I have never been whimsical. In fact, those people generally frighten me. "What do you mean, you're just going to drive and see where it takes you? What if you run out of gas and no one is around??" No, I scrutinize everything I do. Which, turns out, is exactly my problem.
STOP THINKING AND WRITE.
That's it. That's the lesson. Simple, easy. Stop being neurotic, thinking everything you write has to be brilliant. Pick up a pen and paper and write something.
That night, I picked up an empty notebook, sat down at my kitchen table and did just that. I wrote whatever came to mind. No editing, no proofreading. The less I thought, the more came out. I felt an overwhelming sense of relief wash over me. I feverishly scribbled, listening to the pen scratch across the pages. In the silence of the room, this was music to my ears.
This brought back memories of my 12-year-old self, scribbling in my coveted diary. It was pink with multi-colored, pastel pages and a tiny lock. I wrote in it every day. It was the place I confessed my unrequited love for practically every boy I came in contact with, where my secrets and fears safely lived. It made me happy and provided a release.
Then, when I got to high school, I stopped. I started thinking keeping a diary was for little girls, not cool high school teenagers. I read my old diary and felt embarrassed. I destroyed it and threw it in the garbage. Gone, forever.
Writing takes practices, which means its work, which means it's not always fun. Finally, after 35 years, that concept is sinking in. I know! I'm a slow learner. 12-year-old Marie knew what she was doing. But, because I stupidly threw her out, I forgot all about her. I'm realizing the importance of good habits and repetition. My notebook is slowly filling up and that makes me happy.
My old buddy Writer's Block packed his bags and moved out. I can't say he won't try to move back in. In fact, I'm sure he will. But next time, it won't be as easy to get in.