When words fail…
It’s been the story of my life over the last few months. After blogging at least once a week for almost five years (!) I feel like my words have run dry.
It’s not that I have nothing to say – I just don’t know how to say it any more. As usual, the way that my brain works is that a song comes to mind. This time it’s from Shrek the Musical. In a song appropriately named “When words fail,” Shrek tries to rehearse what he will say to the Princess to tell her how he feels about her, but the harder he tries the more awkward and clumsy his attempts become.
That’s how I feel right now.
I don’t want to stop blogging. In fact I’ve begun several posts over the last few weeks, fully intending to publish them, but something has held me back.
So, why am I lost for words?
I think I’ve identified four reasons:
First of all, as I’ve mentioned and have been aware of all through lockdown, having to adapt to working from home and spending so much time on Zoom has left me exhausted and unable to face any more time in front of a screen.
Secondly, I’ve realised how much of my writing has been inspired by the little day-to-day interactions that have been lacking over the last few months.
Several years ago, I took part in an interview for a local radio station and I was unprepared for how awkward it would be. I was used to speaking in front of people, but I hadn’t realised until that point how much I bounced off people’s reactions and responses. I wasn’t used to speaking into the silence.
The longer the interview went, the more I felt myself wilting until the interviewer asked the final question and I froze. I must have paused for at least 90 seconds before I could say anything at all and it wasn’t even a particularly hard question! (I was just grateful that it wasn’t broadcast live and that the massive pause could be edited out!)
I feel that my experience of trying to write has been similar over the last few months – I hadn’t realised how much the little, normal, everyday interactions had fueled my writing.
Thirdly, I’ve been anxious, more anxious than I realised. I think that’s been the case for a lot of us over the last few months, and I may have a post on that coming soon if I can manage to make myself finish it.
The final reason is probably the most significant one right now, and I think it is the main reason behind all the unfinished drafts. It relates to comments I’ve received about my writing.
The comments are nothing to do with my writing on this blog, they have been given in a kind and loving way, and I know they are well-intentioned, but for some reason they are absolutely stifling my words right now. The person making the comments comes from a very different theological perspective to me, but they have raised issues about statements I didn’t think for a moment were controversial, and it has got me overthinking everything.
Whenever I write anything now, I read it over and over and filter it and worry about what people will think to the extent that I can’t seem to get the words out to finish the post.
But the longer I am silent, the easier it is to stay silent, so I suppose this is my attempt to fight against it.
Over the last month I have had the joy of attending a few writing seminars online and I have been truly inspired and blessed by them despite the fact that I’m struggling so much with writing just now. One piece of advice that stood out to me was that it takes much more effort and energy to get going than to keep going once we’ve started.
So this is my attempt to get going and I really hope it will make it easier to keep going. I’m making no promises about returning to blogging more regularly, but it is definitely my aim and my desire to do so as soon as I can.
What about you? What helps you to get going when you’re stuck in writing? I’d love to learn from your advice and your experiences.