Brock, My Greatness Blocker

Something I wrote back in July:

What is it that keeps me from accomplishing what I want to accomplish? Why isn’t it as easy as “just do it”? It’s like an invisible force that draws a thin veil between me and what I want to get done. I see my greatness on the other side but I can’t get to it. I know what I need to do but I can’t do it. Is it the voices in my head? The faint whispers that tell me I don’t have time, or no, do it later. You’re not good enough, you don’t deserve it? I can’t pin it down.

Is it laziness? Depression? Early childhood trauma?

Some mystical explanation like a terrible terrible demise in a past life?

This kind of block, after years and years of trying to figure it out, leads one down an interesting path of thinking. Digging deeper, trying to understand, that process becoming more of a block from “just doing it.” How does one get off that rollercoaster?

To you, my accomplished reader, the answer may seem simple: Get off your ass, out of your chair, stop wallowing in self-pity, and get over it. Well I’m not off my ass or out of my chair but I am here. Typing. Writing. At least getting some words out on a page rather than on Facebook. It is a start, yes?

So, I am embracing my block…whatever it might be. I am going to try and befriend it. Who knows, maybe he’ll help me. Maybe he’ll turn out to be a she. That’s probably more likely. Maybe he’ll turn into a character in a book. Maybe he’ll be the antagonist. More interestingly, maybe he’ll be the protagonist.

Poor, misunderstood Block. Or maybe I’ll call him Brock. No one gets him. It’s like he’s invisible. All he wants is for someone to see him for who he is. He really is trying to help.

He’s a conundrum though. As much as he wants to be understood and seen, as I type this I hear him telling me to stop typing. Go do something else. It’s like he doesn’t want to be seen. Brock, I cannot keep up with you! Wtf, dude? So, I started to listen to him. I daydreamed for a moment, got distracted by what I should name this post but said no, Brock, not right now. Then I think, well, that’s not a very nice way to make friends with him, is it? To just ignore his wishes?

Brock, if you are only trying to help, why are you trying to get me to do something other than this exercise that might help me get back on track? You know, that “write something every day, no matter what it is” track? How does your distraction help me? Really, I want to understand because, if I can understand you, maybe we can work together. I know that’s not your way but hey, if I’m willing to try and meet you in the middle, do you think you could give this a go too? You’ve had your way for a long time. Throw me a bone here, eh?

And poof. He’s gone. Leaving me attempting to read his mind, to figure it out on my own. I think I’m going to have to try a new tactic next time. Maybe not question him so directly, but try to read between the lines of what he’s saying.

You know, Brock, I could have easily named you Dick. But I didn’t. I’m trying here.

The Power of the Closed Door

If you’ve read any books on writing you know that closing your door and shutting everything out is one of the top suggestions. I’ve never been able to do that, feeling like I have to keep an ear open for what is going on with my two homeschooled kids. I’ve been trying to grab time, between interruptions, and I’ve been getting some work done but it’s been choppy. For me, it’s hard to get into the flow when I have to keep stopping and starting.

This past weekend though, I tried it. I told the family I was “going in” and that I was going to close my door and write.

Oh my gosh. That one simple thing, a door, provided a writing cocoon. It’s like the whole atmosphere of my office changed. I had a safe little bubble and I was able to let go of my thoughts of everyone else and what they were doing, or not doing. The messy kitchen disappeared from my thoughts, the clutter from being under construction, forgotten. Nothing had changed but that simple barrier was magic. Even Titanic blaring from the TV turned into simple background noise.

Right now I’m trying it during the day while my kids are homeschooling and it’s not as easy. I have this little guilty voice in the back of my head pulling me out there and telling me that I should be more engaged. So it might be something I only do ‘after hours’ but, I highly recommend trying it.

NOTE: I was in my office writing this with the door closed and didn’t declare my intention of being left alone. One kid interrupted me 3 times. So I add the caveat to the closed door: Let them know you’re off limits unless there is an emergency. Helping them to decide which form of Mac ‘n Cheese to make is not an emergency.

Oops. There goes interruption number 4, to let me know she just burned her tongue on a noodle.


How a mixed-up mind works, or doesn’t.

I was doing my morning pages this morning afternoon, and started free-writing about how to better organize my time. I have always been resistant to structure and scheduling. I get plenty done without a planner, but if I put myself on a calendar my brain starts to think about the blocked-out time and it hangs over my head.

It can be as simple as a doctor’s appointment, which doesn’t require any thinking or planning. Just show up at the right time, right? For me, knowing that I forget things, miss appointments, show up at wrong times and days, and have time issues in general, that one appointment takes way more brain space than it should. I put it on my calendar, I have it on a post-it on my desk, and I try to keep it in my head too. And I still mess things up.

Twice this month I’ve gotten my kid up way too early for his online class. I also arranged for our bookkeeper to be on the look-out for the garage door repairman on a day that I booked a doctor’s appointment at the same time, just to find out that my appointment was the following week, and not at the same time as the repair guy at all. I don’t know what happens. Don’t even get me started on trying to get somewhere without GPS, despite the fact that I’ve been to that same place many many times before.

My husband says, put it all on a Google calendar and have it send you reminders. I can’t get across to him why that doesn’t work for me. I’d still have it in my head, I’d have one more place to check for my duties, and then I’d have those nagging reminders popping up to mock me too. I know I’d dismiss them and still forget what I have to do.

current planner

My current planner

As I write this I’m thinking that I should stop trying to remember things, especially when I’ve written them down. I should just rely on the planner, whatever form it takes. But I can’t. My brain doesn’t let go of it. I don’t know how to make it let go. Needless to say, with all the things that we have going on in our lives plus those of our kids, and throw in a time zone difference or two, and it can get kind of chaotic up in my ole noggin.

We all have busy lives these days. The way my brain handles that though is not quite the straight line as others may experience. Most people fill their calendars and make it from point A to point B, maybe frazzled from being over-booked, but not as much from thinking about forgetting everything they’re supposed to do because, well, it’s on their calendar and they don’t obsess about it when they don’t need to be.

So anyway, I get this idea that I could block out time to work on my writing. Simple enough. But this is what my brain starts telling me:

First, Lori, you know you’re not coherent enough in the mornings to do good work. Ok, so morning block is out. Second, you know you can’t do it during the day because you have to homeschool and if you try to do it then, your kids will be lacking and you will fail them and their educations. Sure, you could try for little pieces of time but you also know that for you to be good at any art, you need a chunk of time to get into the zone. You know how much you get interrupted so scratch that. So, you can do it in the afternoon, right? Well, no, because you want to make dinner and eat with your family and then, you need and want your yoga. So that leaves, the evening after yoga. Yes, but…then I just want to relax. I don’t want to fire up my brain again and get into it and then not get good sleep. How stupid is all of that? I tell myself, quit whining and just fucking do it, you’re not the only one that does this (or am I)? Everyone has a lot of shit in their lives and they get things done. You seem to have time to blog. Yes, but, blogging doesn’t take thinking. I just sit down and type. But, shouldn’t writing be that same way? What the hell is going on up there?