Writer’s Block Begone!

My unease grew daily despite posing on the beach in all my glory during my Spring break in Mexico. My mind has been crossing a few ‘ts’ since my return.

I’ve been milling over my writing group’s feedback given to me before the trip. They’d read two chapters near the end of my novel, “Northern Branches” that included an important event in Kitty’s life and a major shift in her relationships. I won’t be too specific in case I spoil it for those intending to read it. Fingers and toes crossed!

I’d nailed the physical details of the event, but my fellow writers wanted more psychological depth and insight into Kitty’s character.

Their advice stung as these chapters were particularly personal to me because although most of the story is fiction, I’d tried to capture this one event that I’d experienced with as much realism as I could muster. The incident caused me ten days of insomnia, and a spot of post-traumatic stress. So I’d soul searched a lot to describe it, or so I thought!

How could the chapters be considered shallow? My ego asked me. Yet looking over them again, I had to admit that Kitty’s expectations and inner struggles could have been expanded a little, maybe.

Learning to be a writer has touched me on a human level and as a craftswoman. Overall, I hope I’ve become humbler and less reactive to criticism. I’ve often used other writer’s ideas that resonated and improved my story. It’s the best way to develop my craft.

Yet I spent these past few weeks feeling sorry for myself, and I played a stupid video game to avoid writing. I also poured over the latest edition of Oprah mag., (my cure-all for the blues normally.)

Ironically, it took a trip to my local library to get my motivation/mojo back. While I searched for books a librarian confided that they had received a complaint. The library was my haven from when I first arrived in the burbs and this librarian helps to manage a tight, professional, well-oiled machine. The library promotes local art and culture e.g. there’s an art exhibit from my kid’s art teachers there right now. They also have fun competitions and wonderful kid’s activities every day of the week.

My kids are fabulous readers, and enjoyed the never-ending imaginative worlds and adventures from library books. There’s no way we could afford to buy all the books my kids devoured each week. So I was forever in their debt.

The librarian explained that the complaint had made them question their job satisfaction and future. They looked so deflated by the criticism, despite their hard work, (it even affected their sleep), so I offered advice that I needed to take myself.

I asked them to send blessings to the person who complained. They had brought them the gift of self-evaluation and self-reflection, and most people avoid this, as I had done after the event I tried to recreate in my chapter. We both needed that time of reflection in order to emotionally grow.

So I’m now in recovery from writer’s block, and I’m grateful to my writing group for encouraging me to be the best writer I can be. I will continue my journey, and try to be bold and specific with my future goals. I’m going to prioritize my next steps in a list. I’ll chant ‘I want to be a published author and not a pessimistic scaredy-cat’ in the mirror every morning or ‘Life Loves me sounds easier.

So I have begun to add extra internal dialogue and intensified Kitty’s inner struggles and triumphs and I wrote a scene between Kitty and her brother to enrich the chapter. Now I understood why was I so resistant to make the changes and why I’d stopped writing.

In truth, I WAS SELF-SABOTAGING! With only three chapters left to edit, I was terrified of what happens next. I was petrified of failure. I guess that I expected change to bring pain, which was such a negative and destructive reaction. This negativity brought on writer’s block.

Fear paralyzed me so I needed to shift my attention into making progress and to become curious about the journey again. But what if my writing travels brought more and more frustration? Negative introspection had to stop right then!

I need to appreciate more color in my life. So at 48 years old I got two bright red streaks put in my hair. I smile every time I brush it. That’s a good start.

I chose to embrace change, be passionate and expect grand happenings. 

Sending blessings to you all.

P.S. I’m reading A Path Appears by N. D. Kristof & Sheryl WuDunn, it’s packed from start to finish with inspiring stories of extraordinary people who make huge differences around the world with their humanitarian efforts. Instead of feeling inadequate, I intend to take action in some way to help out. I highly recommend this book!

 Live strong everyone!

Live Strong!

Live Strong!

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About Jackie Cartwright

Jackie Cartwright spent her childhood in Northern Ireland, during the Troubles, in a farming town called Limavady, where “Northern Branches” takes place. She is a former English and Theatre Studies high-school teacher, who attended Leeds and Oxford University. She taught in London for five years, finishing as a Department Head. She has worked as an Assistant Director for successful British TV dramas such as “Daylight Robbery”, and dabbled as a radio presenter for an English hospital radio. This novelist ‘wanna be’ lives in New York with her husband, a hungry Guinea Pig, five goldfish and two small kids. She fell in love with the U.S.A while working at a Summer Camp in Maine and during a semester at Ripon College Wisconsin as part of her B.A. She is active in several local not-for-profit organizations, acting as a mentor at Women Care and as the leader of the Westchester Chapter of the Holistic Moms Network for four years. She adores volunteering for WNYC New York Public Radio and is an active PTA member. Jackie partners with the Sound Shore Writers Group in Rye, and has attended several writing courses at Sarah Lawrence and Gotham Writers Workshop. She teachers writing when she finds the time. On her Tumblr blog, www.egotasticearthmom@tumblr.com, Jackie shares her Irish wit, a passion for writing, and holistic parenting. “Northern Branches” is her debut novel.
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4 Responses to Writer’s Block Begone!

  1. Pamela Cartwright says:

    Great blog Jackie, but most importantly…….. you got 2 red streaks in your hair! I wish I had your adventurous spirit X

    Like

  2. AnnMarie Lipinsky says:

    Hi Jackie, so timely, enjoyed reading your blog, looking forward to your novel.

    Like

  3. Love your take on writer’s block & how helping someone else led to your own answer:) Also, the red streaks!! You go girl.

    Like

    • Thank you Cynthia, I get compliments about my hair every day. So funny! I never believed I would suffer from the dreaded writer’s block, I scoffed at the very thought of it. I had so little time to write one way or another. I was the master of cramming as much as I could into an hour. But it got me, and I was humbled like every other writer out there. I’m so glad I’m in recovery and like any affliction, if respected and addressed, it can be overcome.

      Like

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