Obstacle or Excuse?

The biggest obstacle that keeps me from writing is the same thing that enables me to write in the first place: my mind.

My mind never stops. Even when I’m trying to sleep. Especially when I am trying to sleep. I worry and doubt and question and berate constantly. I have an idea, but as soon as I have an idea I have another idea. But then I worry that I should be doing something else. Or I really should be doing something else, so guilt keeps me from writing. Or my mind gets distracted. Shiny! Internet. Work. Friends. Family. Sleep. Eating. Chores. Errands.

My mind constantly tries to prioritize all of the things going on in my life, and most days, writing ends up at the bottom of the list.

Some of it’s laziness. I have to focus my energies and thoughts to write. I have to sit still for more than five minutes. I have to channel my thoughts into something coherent.

Then the what-ifs set in. What if it’s not coherent? What if everyone hates it? Who cares if anyone else hates it, I hate it and that’s all that matters. What if I make it good and try to get it published and nobody likes it? What if I do get published? What then? I refer to this worry as Publishing Paralysis.

Sometime the Cafe keeps me from writing. I spend time writing for it and making sure everything runs smoothly that by the time I get caught up, I have lost all ambition to work on any of my own stuff.

For the last few months, my new partner has been an obstacle. I used to be single with no children or pets. I read almost 100 books last year and wrote two novels. At the end of the year, I met the love of my life. Since then, I’ve wanted to spend all of my free time with him. And he came with a dog and a four-year-old. I love all three of them more than I ever thought possible, and they fill a hole in my life I didn’t even realize was there, but they have taken a lot of time away from the things I used to do, including writing.

Having a social life, a job, family, obligations – essentially, all the things that make up life are obstacles.

But only if you let them be.

All of these things? I look at them as excuses. My own excuses are my obstacles. My mind loves to try to justify them as legitimate reasons. But the deep guilt I feel when I don’t write makes me realize that they are just lies I tell myself to keep myself from doing what I love.

Why do I punish myself? I don’t know. I blame the tortured writer mentality. Have you ever met a writer that wasn’t weird or demented in some way?

Maybe not. Maybe I’m projecting.

The bigger, more important question should probably be how we overcome those obstacles. Maybe this weekend’s Ephemera will be able to shed some light on that very important question.

Sara is a Kansas-grown author of the fantasy and horror persuasions. She is convinced that fantastical things are waiting for her just around the corner, and until she finds the right corner, she writes about those things instead.

1 Comment

  • Muriel says:

    Wow, I love everyone’s entries on this week’s topic of OBSTACLES. Is anyone keeping track of these hot button issues that seem to magically draw out the most honest visceral blog posts?

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