When Life Gets in the Way


Helga’s Post # 124   Maybe I got my mojo working again. At least I hope it’s not just a writer’s unfounded optimism. We writers have a tendency for that.

Time will be my judge. At any rate, it feels good to wallow in that precious groove after a lengthy absence. Sort of like coming back to the fold after drifting aimlessly without any idea of a destination.

From my periodic scanning of fellow writers’ blogs I know that I was but one of a legion. Does it make me feel any better? Not really. Every single one in this motley crowd has legitimate and sound reasons for shelving the one activity they like best, for ignoring that itch that can’t be scratched. Yet, we dropped it. Abandoned, betrayed, or put on ice if we are unwilling to call it by its real name.

Much has been written about the reasons why writers suddenly turn into deserters. The term writers’ block is pulled out whenever a writer is stuck for any reason whatsoever. Mostly when well-meaning friends and family inquire what might be the problem. “Why can’t I find your book on the bestseller shelf in the front of the bookstore?”

It’s the most über-used term in the writers’ universe.

I will not write yet another piece on writers’ block and the predictable parroted answer, ‘because life got in the way’. It’s one of the most widely touted reasons for abandoning writing. Of course life gets in the way. Otherwise we’d all be dead.

In this post I will go in the opposite direction. I will try to understand the forces that motivate a writer’s to return to the fold, to pick up where they left, and do so with renewed passion.

So, putting this argument on its head, what are the forces that make some writers return after a long bout of writers’ block? What does it take to truthfully look friends and spouse in the eye and say, “I am a writer.” No wordy explanation needed. They may believe it or not. What counts is that you know deep down it’s true. You have reached a turning point.

So, yes, life gets in the way. It stops us from being writers, apparently. But it’s exactly that which makes us writers again: Life. Simple as that.

An unexpected event. Something totally unplanned catapults us in a direction we never intended. Gets us out of our comfort zone. Makes us take risks. Perhaps after a long period of misery that has started to define us, that has made us forget that life can actually have joys waiting for us. Joys long forgotten and buried. Suddenly the world looks different.

No, it’s not. It’s us who are looking at the world with different eyes. It need not even be a hugely significant event. It can be as simple as adopting a pet. Anyone who has ever done that will agree that it can enrich your life beyond words.

Or you find a new passion. A career change that allows you to express some long-buried or never developed talents. Perhaps you suddenly discover you can draw. You pursue it and find you can paint too. Any number of such things can transform you and change your perspective.

Or, perhaps the most sure-fire reason is you meet someone new and start a relationship. Someone who was never on your radar screen suddenly takes your heart by storm. (There is a reason why the market is glutted with romance writers and readers)

All of these events give rise to positive emotions that can be so overwhelming that there is no room inside you any more. You need to find an outlet, you need to give these raw and tender emotions a voice.

Welcome back to writing!

And once you get back to your keyboard you will suddenly find it’s a different style of writing. You read over some of your previous work that you abandoned because ‘life got in the way’. You notice it sounds flat, possibly boring. You realize this new writing is different. It’s stronger, more powerful. It’s edgy, and deep, and it resonates the new ‘life that got in the way’. It mirrors your newfound passion. And it needs to find expression or you fear you will burst at the seam.

It’s not an option. It’s a gift that cannot be squandered. And every writer who has been there knows. As for myself, I am carefully wading in those positive waters, after a very long time of grief and loss. Life simply got in my way, in a good way, and the transition leaves me no choice but to put it into words.

Will it last? Stay tuned. And don’t forget to leave your keyboard occasionally and let life take you where it should. You may be surprised how much power you have to give it direction. Only you can choose to take that positive fork in the road. To push the reset button. And let that awesome writer inside you come on stage.