August 20, 2015

Writer's Block? What Writer's Block? by Joylene M. Bailey



My husband has worked in the grocery business since he was 16 years old. Through the years, as our three girls were growing up, we all knew there were places – grocery places – you never mentioned. And you definitely didn’t set foot in them. They were the competition and, therefore, bad words in our house. Heaven forbid if we ever had a competitive store-brand item in our cupboards. “Support the hand that feeds you!” became a family watchword.

Unlike Connie, who thinks of blocks and gets creative, I have heard the phrase “Writer's Block” and decided it wasn’t going to be part of my vocabulary. It’s a bad word, and too scary a concept.

What if it happens to me? What will I do?

The stress of the what-ifs is just not worth it. How in the world is buying into the term “Writer's Block” supporting the concept of using the gift God has given me?

So I refuse to use it (except for this blog post). And that works for me.

When I go through seasons when it seems I’ve been halted in the middle of writing, or I can’t get started, I’ve always taken that as a sign to take a break. It might be a short break - a nap, a walk.  Or a long break - like an entire summer.

This summer God has taken me on retreat – to a place of restoration and refreshment. I believe He saw how burnt out I was by the end of May and knew that for me to be my best self I would need a full summer of R & R.   



Like the sheep in Psalm 23, I have been made to lie down in green pastures – the most perfect grocery place a sheep could ever ask for. He has led me beside still waters and restored my soul. He has fed me with understanding, through prayer and reading, and friends like you fellow Inscribe bloggers, and helped me to realize that it’s okay if I’m not writing right now.

I am learning that to get stressed out when nothing is flowing only makes things worse. It’s like getting frustrated and mad when you can’t sleep. Getting mad only pushes sleep further away. Stress builds stress.

At least, it does for me.

And so, I have been reading, and observing, and reading, and enjoying my family, and reading, and biking, and doing crossword puzzles, and reading, and enjoying my family, and sleeping, and reading…  You get the picture.

I don’t make a living by my pen. But I know God has called and gifted me to write and so I know that when the time is right, He “will stir in me and the words will flow” (Connie).

I don’t go near the competition, that other grocery place. I don’t use that bad word.

Writer’s Block? Nah. It’s not the hand that feeds me.







Joylene has spent her summer in and around Edmonton, where she lives with the Cowboy, Babe, and a cat named Calvin.  You can find her joy-infused perspective on her blog at joyousmi.blogspot.ca and maybe someday in that novel she is working on.

15 comments:

  1. I feel I have been lovingly rebuked, Joy. Jesus says we're to cast our care on him, to fear not, that his mercy is new every morning. And yet we flirt with terms like 'writers block'? You're right. Naming and engaging the concept could be the worst thing for us writers. I will take this to heart when it comes to my writing commitments as well. Thank you!

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    1. Bobbi, thank goodness you felt LOVINGLY rebuked (haha) since I had no intentions that these words would rebuke anyone. Oh dear.

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    2. In a very good way, Joy. It tells me that your words touched something in me I needed to pay attention to. Always a good thing, so thank you!

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  2. Just don't go there! I like your attitude, Joy. Such practical advice, though it takes me a little bit of time to move away from the panic, I will now walk down the street to the place that feeds me.

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    1. I know, easier said than done. But so helpful to see the non-writing seasons in a positive light rather than a negative one. Thanks for your comment Marnie.

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  3. I love the balance offered in this month's posts. A time of recharging is absolutely necessary and we must learn to accept those times as part of the seasons of writing.

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    1. Balance and seasons - good words to remember. I have loved the posts this month too. So much to learn from others' experiences.

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  4. Writer's block is just an excuse to hide behind. For me the more I write, even in my journal, the more I want to write.

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    1. I agree -- the more I write, the more I want to write. Which is a good reason to put into practice the advice earlier this month to just sit down and write - even for 5 minutes, and even though you may think you have nothing to write. That was my favourite piece of advice this month.

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  5. I am so happy for you that God has made you to lie down in green pastures this summer and that through this period of relaxation your soul is being restored. Your grocery store image works well with your blog. Thanks for this excellent read and the sensible approach you have shared with us regarding the dreaded W.B. that we can we writers can rail against rather than go with God's flow. In his time, we will write meaningful material.

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    1. Thanks for your encouragement Sharon.

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  6. I am often the nagging friend who points out words uttered that can block us like 'should' and 'can't', yet never thought that naming a dry writing season as 'block' can also be hindering, instead of active! I so agree with you though! It is instead a season to be filled with living water again so the words can flow when filled. Thank you!

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  7. Thank you for this encouraging article Joylene. It's helped relieve the constant pressure I've felt to 'get that book together' and know that when the time is right I'll write it.
    Enjoy the rest of your relaxing summer.

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  8. Like I said on facebook, I don't like that "other" grocery store either. And yes, God has definitely called you and gifted you to write the stirrings of your heart.

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