I was chatting to a dear friend of mine the other day and a question came up:
‘Why does love hurt?’
‘Love can never hurt,’ I blurted out before old memories kicked in: excruciating anguish while waiting for a call from certain someone, constant anxiety that somehow I’m not enough [beautiful, clever, funny, sexy, innocent – fill in the blank, I had them all], pointless worrying about what to say and how to look….
In other words, being in love was hell! Of course, it hurt.
But did it really? When I paused and reflected on it, I realised that love itself doesn’t hurt. It opens you up and that can make you feel vulnerable. In that state of vulnerability, your fears can easily get triggered: fear of abandonment, feeling not good enough, fear of rejection – to name but a few. Because your emotions are heightened, those unresolved fears can feel intense and overwhelming.
I realise the same is true of writing. If you are a writer, you know the ecstasy of those moments when you let writing pour out of you – unedited and uncensored. There’s a sense of release and channelling your writing. Sure, you might read it back and think – what a load of rubbish, but in the moment, it uplifts you and maybe reminds you of feeling in love.
When you show that writing to someone else, that can feel vulnerable. You expose yourself to potential criticism and if other people are not kind and sensitive enough, it can leave lasting scars similar to an unrequited love.
The act of writing can’t be painful in itself.
If you journal for yourself, it’s not charged because chances are no one would read it and start correcting your grammar or suggesting a better structure. But the moment other people start passing judgments on your writing, your insecurities get triggered. Your old feelings of rejection, abandonment and not-good-enough, feelings which originally had nothing to do with writing, surface and can be intensely painful.
I’ve heard people advising writers to get a tougher skin. Rejections and disappointment are part of this game, so get used to them. Eat them for breakfast, I’ve heard them say.
Toughening up equals shutting down.
Of course, you feel disappointed when your piece is rejected. Let yourself feel that disappointment. If you stuff it down, it’ll keep re-surfacing with every rejection, and each time it’s gonna be stronger.
Let yourself grieve that missed opportunity – when your emotions flow, you can move through that feeling within a matter of minutes or even seconds. If the feeling doesn’t pass within minutes, it’s probably not *just* about this rejected piece. Chances are you felt rejected at some point in your childhood and the pain gets triggered by your present-day experience. In that case, find a way to deal with that pain. Because if you are in the writing business, the combined effect of that unresolved pain can snowball with every rejection, blocking your creative efforts.
I’m running a workshop on Thursday 3 May at Isbourne college in Cheltenham. Come along, heal your fears of failure, exposure and success, and fall in love with writing all over again. The early-bird rate of £40 expires tomorrow (30 April 2018).
All the details are below:
3 Secrets to Overcoming Writer’s Block with Ease and Grace
Thursday 3rd May 11am-3pm; Isbourne College, Cheltenham
Early bird £40 (until 30th April); full price £55
What gets in the way of your writing or sharing your work with the world. Procrastination? Perfectionism? Low self-confidence? So-called ‘writer’s block’ can have many different causes. But what if you could set yourself and your writing free with ease and grace? In this self-enquiry workshop, you can experience this first-hand. Through a unique set of exercises, you will have a chance to learn how to heal your creativity blocks by using simple and powerful techniques.