Maria Konnikova’s essay How to Beat Writer’s Block in The New Yorker is an analysis of the dreaded formless disease/condition/diagnosis called Writer’s Block. Many writers have faced this block at some point in their lives. Even Graham faced the empty page. He did battle it though, with a dream journal.
Writer’s Block is officially recognized as a problem, and not some kind of laziness or lack. It can be psychoanalysed and even treated:
“Blocked writers were unhappy. Symptoms of depression and anxiety, including increased self-criticism and reduced excitement and pride at work, were elevated in the blocked group; symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder, such as repetition, self-doubt, procrastination, and perfectionism, also appeared, as did feelings of helplessness and “aversion to solitude”—a major problem, since writing usually requires time alone.”
The best part about this history of the invisible condition is that a writer can cure herself by resorting to the one thing she can not do any more- write. Knowing that creativity is creativity’s only vaccine gives hope.
In her story Writing my Context at The Rumpus, Lyz Lenz writes about how motherhood unblocked her. She wrote continuously in spite of life and she got published especially because of her life: “So I wrote more, enjoying the publication but resenting that I had to use my uterus to get there.”
Having kids changed the trajectory of her output and her readers liked her the more for it.
Parenting books tell me that I ought to draw healthy boundaries between myself and my children. But I once read that cells from the fetus stay inside the mother long after the child is born. Scientists don’t know what those cells do to the mother exactly, but they do know they linger forever in her heart and in her head. These cells make a mother a chimera—a mythical creature composed of disparate parts. But how can they be disparate when they are part of who you are? I also read that my children have my cells in them too. We are all chimeras.
Have you tried to write your context? Have you felt hindered in some way or do you feel more voluble?