If you read Monday's post, you'll recall that I said I was going to discuss the first two flavors today, but then I realized there was just too much to tell you, so I'm going to do a post on the second flavor (brain clog) on Friday, and I'll focus on only the first (broader life/mental health issues) today.
Now, it would be kind of flip of me to say to you: "If it's broader life/mental health issues, just go deal with those and come back when you're done. Then your writer's block will be gone!"
I would suck if I said that. It doesn't work like that. Sure, there are transient life situations, like moving apartments, or starting college or a new job, or having any kind of illness that is treatable and goes away. Sometimes you can just wait things out. But if there's something chronic, if you are a typical adolescent or grown-up who is juggling multiple roles ... telling you to go "deal with that" so you can get back to writing is pretty laughable. It's far more complex than that. You do have to deal with it, though. Every day. But it's probably more of a management process than a "clear the decks so everything else is perfect" thing.
Now, if you think you might have a clinical issue, like depression or anxiety, that is affecting your ability to write, it's worth taking a look at. I won't go into too much depth here, but I would say that it would be worth it to consult with a competent professional to see if you can get treatment to improve your ability to manage those symptoms across settings and situations.
But as for the other "chronic life stuff" issues ... you'll get back on track quicker if you take the time to figure it out and sort it out. On Monday I responded to a comment by Lydia Sharp, soon-to-be-published author and blogger extraordinaire. She basically asked what to do when there are multiple life-and-other-stuff causes for writer's block. It reminded me that ... this is usually the case, actually. I responded to that comment with a (kinda long) comment of my own, which I present again today. Only with pictures. And no spelling errors.
[By the way? This? This is how I work with clients. No magic--just systematic approaches to complex problems...]
If you were to come to me and say, "Help! I haven't written a page in over a month!" ...
Then we'd build a model of what's causing the block, just like in that diagram. But again, for an individual person, it would be more specific. We'd think of as many causes, no matter how big or small, and write them around the problem.
Here's what one of those diagrams might look like:
After we make our map (it might be more complex than this one), we know the things that *could* be targeted to get you writing again. We could target some of the different thoughts, or the structure of the schedule, or the supportiveness of the partner and other natural supports, etc. But there's no way we can tackle all of them at once! We have to prioritize. So we would consider a few questions:
6. Are there any causes that are tightly connected to the problem and happen right before the problem crops up? (again, often the thoughts)
We'd reassess frequently to see if the intervention is working, and if it's not, we'd analyze why (using the same process as above!)
And ... that's it. It's not a perfect, simple process, but it organizes something that can often feel unmanageable and therefore undoable. I promise you--mapping it out instead of letting it stay big and hairy and overwhelming ... it will help you feel better and more in control. And that is an excellent first step.
I'll be back on Friday to talk about BRAIN CLOG.