Sunday Box Talk – On Artistic Blocks, Fear, and Forward Movement


As many of know, I’m an author.  Last July, my coauthor Rachel Wilder and I decided to go independent with our Chicagoland Shifters series.  That’s when the trouble started.  It was as though I was a creative car engine, and I ran out of oil.  I had plenty of gas, but no lubricant and the engine locked up.  Boom.  Nothing.

Artistic blocks are frustrating because there’s nothing visibly wrong  But it’s like we’re bleeding to death with no blood coming out.  And it’s incredibly difficult to talk about, because, after all, there’s nothing tangible that’s wrong.  If we say something to the wrong person, we risk further blockage, requiring us to practice vigilant self-care in selecting our friends.  I remember I told someone I was having a block, and she guffawed a loud bark.  “A blocked Noony isn’t the same as anyone else blocked.”  Only, it is, and I was, and damn it, it’s hard to get support.

Apropos of which, if you are feeling tuck, or clotted, or a vague yearning to make or write something, honor that and get help.  The Artist’s Way is a great resource, as is a good therapist.  So is taking a class or meeting with a friend to make or write something, no matter how small.

But my point in writing this is to say, there’s been forward movement.  In December, we did “Six Geese Laid – A Holiday Fable,” set in the world of the Chicagoland Shifters  In March, I was accepted to the Romance Divas Mentor Boot Camp and get to work with bestselling author Violet Vaughn.

In working with Violet, I’ve gotten Cat’s Cradle up on Apple and Barnes and Noble.  I’m working on Kobo and ARe (All Romance eBooks).  CreateSpace is nearly ready; I just have to fix the footers.

I know in business, speed to market is critical to success and sometimes a key differentiator between success and failure.  I feel like I did everything wrong with our indie launch, but it’s taught me some important lessons:

  1. Just show up.  You can’t get the job done if you don’t get to work.
  2. “Right” is none of my business.  Just do the next task.
  3. Blockage is real.  I am not lazy, I’m blocked.
  4. I can get unblocked.
  5. Blocks are a normal part of the artist’s life.
  6. Asking for help is a sign of strength, especially when it doesn’t feel like it.
  7. It’s hard to work a full time job, have a functioning family, be a writer, and an indie author.  That’s a lot of balls to keep in the air.
  8. I like challenges.  The December gym challenge got me to the gym 25 days in a row, and the April A to Z Blog Challenge got me blogging daily on three blogs, plus two team blogs and guest posts.
  9. Sometimes, you need to just fucking do it.  I started a Facebook group for Writer Zen Garden – I kept waiting for the right time and realized if I kept doing that, I’d wait forever.
  10. PTSD and anorexia suck.  In case you were wondering.

The moral of this story, or the “key takeaway” in corpspeak, is that the only failure is not getting back up.  In July, I got Cat’s Cradle up on Amazon. I still haven’t figured out what stopped me putting it on the other vendor sites, but something did.  Self-sabotage, most likely.  Rather than sit and reflect on that, I can work with Violet and other writer friends and move forward, however slowly, to get it out on the other sites.  I’m still not finished, but each experience teaches me something.  For example, next time, I may hire someone to do the uploads.  It is probably worth the money to pay them to do it quickly and efficiently, rather than this eight month lag-time and shame-fest that I’ve been drowning in.

If you’re reading this and seeing any echoes of your own experience, know this:  just start now.  Start where you are, today.  Make something.  Write some words.  And most of all, forgive yourself for yesterday.  We can only control where we are now, int eh present day.  So own it, own your dream, and own your progress.

We can do this.

Write on.

2 Replies to “Sunday Box Talk – On Artistic Blocks, Fear, and Forward Movement”

  1. (hugs) Blocks are miserable things. They rise, like a giant curb you didn’t see. Before you know it, you’re stumbling over one and you’re down. I experienced blockage yesterday. All of my creative energy was drained, leaving me numb and unimaginative. I fought it, by taking a moment to just play with Pinterest. The stimulus of being confronted by a wide variety of things I love from an outside source picked up my spirits, quickening them. Going out to dinner and a show with my husband completely restored me.. I was actually able to work on a writing project I hadn’t been able to get to all month last night. Perhaps what we need when we’re blocked is a change, a stimulus to get us going again. Or perhaps Maria from ‘The Sound of Music’ is right. We need to think of our favorite things. 🙂 The trick is to remember why those things are truly precious to us. Why do we write? If we can truly answer that question, our blocks may transform into doors. Doors we can open to the place, where our creativity awaits us. 🙂

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