Having a Hard Time Writing Right Now? How to Overcome Creative Paralysis – by Jennifer Brown Banks

Having a Hard Time Writing Right Now? How to Overcome Creative Paralysis – by Jennifer Brown Banks

“Tough times don‘t last. Tough people do.”

No matter where we live, our race, religion, or genre of specialization, as scribes, we all have one common story element that unites us in our humanity: tragedy and loss. There’s simply no escaping it.

Anything that causes grief or extreme stress can affect our ability to remain creative, and to keep working. This, in turn, can result in severe loss of income.

I’m not trying to be a “Debbie Downer” here, I’m simply speaking truth. And, how we navigate these various inevitable “obstacle courses” of life can make or break us spiritually – and financially.

I should know.

A few years ago, when my brother died an unexpected death, I was devastated. Throughout my developmental years, he was a constant source of inspiration and support. And, he was wickedly funny as well. His death caused a void that could not be filled. I was beyond words with grief.

Every day, for an entire month, I cried randomly, sometimes from hearing songs on the radio that reminded me of him, or watching his favorite TV programs. I was unmotivated to write. Former projects were of little interest to me. It was the first time in my decades-long professional career as a writer that I felt creatively paralyzed. His loss seemed to overshadow everything.

WHAT I LEARNED…

“Time heals all wounds.”

There’s no doubt about it. On the heels of trauma, it can be difficult to be creative and productive. To rediscover that passion and fire. To go on with our own affairs. But, we can and we must.

HERE’S WHY: 

1. LIKE IT OR NOT, LIFE WILL GO ON.

If we are under contractual agreement with clients or editors, we could face litigation for not honoring deadlines and deliverables, or lose the trust and confidence we’ve worked so hard to build. Though some may understand and be compassionate, this unfortunately isn’t always the case.

2. NO WRITING OUTPUT MEANS NO INCOME; WHICH CAN CAUSE FURTHER INJURY AND LOSS.

If you’re not working, you’re not earning. If you’re not earning, you may not be able to pay your bills. This will create added stress.

3. WRITING CAN PROVE TO BE THERAPEUTIC.

Writing is reported to improve immune functioning and diminish stress!

4. WRITING CAN HELP MEMORIALIZE LOVED ONES ,AND CREATE NEW MEMORIES TO ADD TO THEIR LEGACY. ENDINGS CAN BECOME BEGINNINGS.

Here‘s a case in point. A while after my brother’s passing, I was inspired to write a tribute poem. For me, it was cathartic and comforting. That piece was later accepted for publication and pay on a highly-regarded website. (I think he would have been proud).

Are you up to the challenge?

HERE ARE 3 MAJOR AREAS OF NEEDED PREPARATION FOR TOUGH TIMES:

MENTAL PREP

“Mind over matter.”

Write Now Coach, Rochelle Melander, shares these words of wisdom: “In times like this, it’s tempting to let worry run our days. We feed it by watching and reading news. We spread it by sharing our worry in texts, conversations, and social media posts. Worry can become an unhelpful companion who turns our days into fear fests.”

The stress and emotional toll associated with tragedies and loss can wreak havoc with our sense of well-being and concentration. Consequently, focus becomes crucial to maintain momentum, and to move forward.

Here are a few coping strategies I have used successfully in the past to stay on track. You should too.

Journaling (particularly a Gratitude Journal)

Music

Positive affirmations

Prayer

Cooking/hobbies

PHYSICAL PREP

Keep active as much as possible. Exercise and physical activity keep the body operating optimally, reduce stress, and release feel-good endorphins. A healthy lifestyle also potentially protects against high medical costs associated with diseases, prescription medication, and surgeries.

FINANCIAL PREP

“Save for a rainy day” is more than a clever cliché. It’s a must for economic survival. The current pandemic provides a cautionary tale, and a wake-up call for all.

There’s nothing noble about being a “starving artist.” With this in mind, your financial prep should include (but not necessarily be limited to):

PROPER INSURANCE COVERAGE

3-6 MONTHS OF INCOME IN YOUR SAVINGS

MINIMAL CREDIT CARD DEBT

LIVING BELOW YOUR MEANS

A COMPETENT TAX ADVISOR/ACCOUNTANT

IN CONCLUSION…

Tragedies and misfortunes will come and go but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do our best to be at our best.

“If you stay ready, you don’t have to get ready!”–Will Smith

RELATED

That Only Happens to Other People! – When Tragedy Affects a Writer’s Livelihood By Karen Carver

An Author’s Strong Best Friend Inspires the Title of a Novel about Grief Recovery – by Tracy K. Sams

Sometimes It Takes a Tragedy to Remember What’s Important in Life…

From Layoff, to Chronic Illness, to Amazing Freelance Writing Success! By Wendy McCance

Illness Forced Me Into Freelancing…and Now I’m Swamped with Work! By Jane Fazackarley

Jennifer Brown Banks is a Content Creator and Creative Strategist. She’s won the  “Top Blog for Writers”  award from 2013 to 2020. Check out all she has to offer at her blog Pen and Prosper.

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