Some days the struggle to write can be insurmountable. Okay, make that most days. At least that is how it felt yesterday, probably the most frustrating day of (non) writing I can remember.
It wasn’t writer’s block. It was time block. First it was the medical bills that had to be paid, and then the ones that were sent to me without ever going to the insurance company in the first place. Then there was the hassle of the committee I’ve chaired for five years and I desperately want to end. Then the obligations of my new VP job for another organization. Then the blog post that needed to go up. Then the Goodreads scammer who gave my new book a 1 rating despite the fact that the book has not even been published yet (so, like, obviously, he didn’t read it yet). Then the fact that there apparently is no mechanism for reporting said scammers. Then the fact I had the “spills” all day long (I’m still cleaning up some of the messes I made). Then there was the planning for the upcoming trip. Then there was the nagging pain in my foot. Then, there was…well, you get the idea.
And then it was 7 p.m. and my grand total of planned writing for the day was zero (0) words. Nil. Not a one. Worse, my mind was struggling with a million thoughts rushing off in a million different directions.
The struggle led to doubts. Doubts that I was a writer (despite two traditionally published books). Doubts that my writing was good enough (despite many good reviews). Doubts that my disorganized mind could focus enough to write the WIP (aka, Work In Progress).
I literally said that to myself. Stop. Take a breath. Take another breath.
Okay, now what?
This was the hardest part of the struggle. I didn’t know what to do next. Finally I decided to break the chain. I pulled a bunch of old CDs off the shelf, mostly old new age, the kind of instrumentals you can play in the background. You’ll be surprised how effective Ottmar Liebert can be to smooth out the hyperstimulation of thought.
I then organized my notes. I know, I know…organizing is not the same as writing. That’s true, but it was both useful and the best I could manage in this transition period. It was also very much needed. I have a tendency to send myself emails with thoughts and links to items I want to put in my WIP. Unfortunately, that means my inbox had over 500 unopened messages from myself (plus some that were opened but not organized, all in addition to the emails I receive from friends, family, and others). I couldn’t find anything, which occasionally led to sending the same note to myself more than once. So with Ottmar and Tim Weisberg and Kitaro keeping me company I set up subfolders and – after the panic of accidentally deleting and anxiously recovering 400 must-keep emails – managed to organize them into the 13 chapter topics of the book. Mission accomplished. More or less.
I still didn’t write a word yesterday, but I feel like I was productive in my non-writing, even if there is more than a hint of rationalization in that feeling.
So today, the struggle continues. As someone dear to me often says:
Write! Write! Write!
David J. Kent is the author of Tesla: The Wizard of Electricity (2013) and Edison: The Inventor of the Modern World (2016) (both Fall River Press). He has also written two e-books: Nikola Tesla: Renewable Energy Ahead of Its Time and Abraham Lincoln and Nikola Tesla: Connected by Fate. His next book, Lincoln: The Man Who Saved America, is due out late July 2017.