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Unblocking Writer’s Block: My Secret to Overcoming My Biggest Obstacle (Myself)

My home office Like many children, I went through a rapid-fire changing of what I wanted to be as a grown up. There was the ballerina phase, which ended after I discovered that I am tragically uncoordinated. Then I wanted to become a neonatologist, which ended abruptly after I failed biology. Also added to the list — in no particular order — economic historian, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, and Vice President of the United States of America (but only if I could be appointed as I didn’t want to go through actually running.) Through all of this one constant remained: no matter what I did, I wanted to write. Writing was the only thing I was remotely good at as I went through the ups and downs of adolescence.

Of course, I am not a writer now — I work in politics for a living — and as for writing? Well, it’s taken a back seat to life. Through work, conflict and depression, one would think that a “real” writer would take these events as opportunities to get to the keyboard. I won’t get into the dirty details, but as many of us have experienced, little things turn into bigger things. I found myself miserable, using my at-home work space as a place to house my laundry. Life threw lemons at me, making me incapable of doing the one thing I truly loved. Instead of making lemonade, I curled up into the fetal position hoping that it would end soon. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to write, it was that I physically couldn’t bring myself to put anything on a page. As you can imagine, things were going well.

After what could possibly be the longest stretch of writer’s block imaginable, I finally realized that the only way to get through anything is to relax and to make it through. It isn’t a particularly riveting revelation, but it was my revelation. The only way to get out of what seemed like a perpetual funk was to simply write. The problem was that writing is the only area of my life where I feel the slightest need to be a perfectionist. I am a terrible editor, and there is often the misplaced comma, but words have always been my true north and I wanted to find them once again.

I’ve wondered how others get through blocks in their life. Of course, I find writer’s block the most relatable — to find something that you are passionate about as unattainable, simply because of the other facets of life is unnerving. Here I was a (somewhat) capable person struggling. I would like to say that getting out of my funk ended with a happily ever after, but it doesn’t. There will always be little things to get in the way, but I have come to the conclusion that to allow all of the little annoyances influence who I am and who I want to be, and to allow them to compound into a giant pain in the butt does no good for anyone. It simply causes unhappiness, and then my unhappiness begets other unhappiness, and so on and so forth.

I managed to write this post, and I have written others in the recent past. I have sat in front of my laptop watching a cursor blink, as though it judges me, as if to say, what are you waiting for? I still become tense with worry that I’m not doing things right. So how did I get out of my block?

I relaxed.
I tried to honestly do the best I could.
I made goals.
I cleaned.
I failed.
I tried again.
I tapped into the simplest of pleasures.

And guess what? It worked. I’m still here.

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