Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Obstacles in Writing

I have just finished reading a powerful book.  It's called The Undefeated Mind by Alex Lickerman, MD.  If you don't mind reading through some densely worded, hair splitting scientific jargon, there is gold to be found within each chapter.

Today's post is about identifying obstacles in writing.  According to Lickerman, just noticing your obstacles is what you need to navigate around them.  I'd rather walk around my obstacles when I see them appear, instead of bashing my head against the same brick wall.

After I made the following list of obstacles, I made this surprising discovery:  some of the obstacles have also been reasons why I write.

What stops me from writing are:

1.  Unexpected events such as the flu, subpoenas, storm preparation and violent weather.

2.   Interruptions from family such as random talking and questions.  (Conversations I have with my family have also deeply enriched me as a writer...I'm talking about the little daily questioning and favors which are totally normal in parenting and something I'm not resentful of.  I have to be an attentive listener as I'm also a home educator, and this is a privilege. I also cannot deny that my writing is fragmented when I'm interrupted).

3.   Television noise.

4.   The draw of Facebook.  (I have also been cultivating my writing voice in that realm, but it is a double edged sword.)

5.   Draining social events (play group, co-op meetings, science Fridays)  These are so enriching to Elliot that I will not sacrifice them, but after a long day of multiple conversations, I'm wiped out!)

6.   Grocery shopping/errand day.

7.   The annoying and manipulative game the cat plays with me as soon as she notices me at the desktop computer. (in, out, in, out, in, out, meow, in, out, in out, meow.)  

8.  Texting.

9.   Insecurity in presenting a distorted or privileged view.  (My loved ones do not want to be represented in my writing, and I respect that. However, it's an obstacle because due to the relationships involved, I automatically avoid writing about a complex or interesting story.  I fail to think about the ways I could possibly address that story without harming someone's ego or risking their need for security.)  Is the the door to fiction?

10.  Perfectionism.  The backspace button has destroyed more words that I can count.

11.  Idealism.  When I want something to be a certain way, I might tint the writing with rose colored glasses.

12.   Comparisons.   I often feel like I am coloring with crayons next to a master.

13.    Anger.  When I'm in an angry mood, I am often afraid to give that emotion more power on the page.

14.  Feeling overwhelmed with responsibility. Family, home, education and social connections are the stuff of life.  My priorities are in the right place, but there must be room for more writing.

Ironically, anger was the catalyst for a big action I'm taking now in writing.  In the Undefeated Mind, Lickerman advises us to turn "poison into medicine."  I discovered that telling a certain kind of story has the power to restore me to a place of health and freedom.

What are your obstacles in writing or in any kind of goal you might have?  Making this list was an empowering activity.  I plan to make new lists of obstacles for other areas of my life, such as business and fitness.  I think it could be applied to relationships as well.

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