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October 15, 2019

How to Stop Spiralling when you Think you Suck.

As the Elephant Academy shares,

“Writing is never done, it’s just due.” ~ old adage about writing

~

Writers spiral, and it’s normal.

All thoughts dive headfirst into the rabbit hole of doubt and self-sabotage when we sit down to our craft sometimes.

Our heads hurt. We’re exhausted, but not because we haven’t slept. Our creative flow is clogged, blocking our potential for greatness. We feel numb and dumb.

After a hiatus of writing for Elephant Journal, I told the head folks I was ready to jump back in “with two feet, two hands, and a full heart” and be a mentor for writers in the Elephant Academy. It was an honor to be back again, and the course’s name, “Find your Voice,” struck a cord. Working with everyone else’s voice as a copywriter, ghostwriter, and editor made me happy; but it was time to dust off my own.

Then life happened…and happened, and happened, and happened some more. My head knew ditzy as the new normal. The course was kicking off, and my thoughts while writing were similar to strumming a bottom lip with an index finger. The playlist I made for an article about beating writer’s block blared. When pulling myself back together, Google Docs became my brain’s landing zone. Each piece looked as disheveled as I felt, even if they were neatly organized. Quotes here, lines of text there…

I paused and took deep breaths. Something needed to change.

Waylon Lewis, the course’s founder, encourages writers to embrace what is going on in their lives instead of trying to fight it. What I wanted to write lay stuck somewhere in the Never-neverland of my mind. So, I took the one word that sent me negatively spiralling to the point of no return and owned it. Waylon suggests having fun instead of struggling, and I did.

The assignment read something like this:

“Write and submit your voice sequentially over six weeks.”

My mind reacted something like this:

Sequentially: Writing in order. Chapter by chapter, piece by piece.

What is order? 

A made bed, clean desk, an agenda.

Beginning. Middle. End.

A 5-7-5 Haiku.

Se-quen-tially: Ser-ious-ly, will our writing miraculously flow in some kind of order for six weeks? 

Sequential-lala-ly: Raise your hand for colorful chaos, not order. 

See-: Ernest Hemingway was right about writing. The most frightening thing is “a blank sheet of paper.”

Sequential-ly: Potential-ly possible if a particular person proactively, persuasively, and provocatively propels her writing. 

Se-quen-Cha-ly: Got-Cha...my writing.

So-quaint-alread-y: “Once upon a time…”

Se-quen-Chill-y: Be kind, warm. 

Stuck-men-tal-ly: Deep breaths.

Se-quen-Chi-ly: Yesss, chi. Vital energy that internally animates our bodies and writing.

Su-quen-tial-ly: Su-ppose-d-ly, a muse is on its way to save this mischievous mental writing block from the not-so-mindful muck meddling and meandering misguiding me into madness.

See-quench-ally: More like blind-parched-alone, with no ally named Ally anywhere.

Se-quest-er-me: Withdraw. 

Suck-quentially: Waisting. My. Time.

She sat spiralling sequentially before beginning part one of the assignment, because she knew the word “writing” could be substituted with “life.”

Writers, please stop spiralling. 

Pause.

Breathe. 

Don’t fight it.

Go with the flow.

Try a different direction.

Explore words in a new way.

Have fun!

…even when spiralling.

 “…this was the first song off the album that Keane released, ‘because we felt that it was really important song in terms of the way we made the record and the spirit of the making of the record. It’s a song that really defined the whole creative process for us and opened us up to a whole new way of working I think.’” ~ Tim Rice-Oxley

Have mindful thoughts to share to break through writer’s block? 

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author: Kate Fleming

Image: Elephant Academy

Editor: Kelsey Michal