You may have noticed things have been a little quiet around here lately.
For the time since I started blogging regularly at the beginning of my career break trip, I went a week without posting. Indeed, the last few weeks, I have been struggling to get even one post up and this past weekend I didn’t post my usual Saturday Scenes photo for the first time in more than a year.
Don’t worry, this isn’t the beginning of the end.
The truth is, I came down with a bad case of writer’s block. Or at least some form of writer’s block. It wasn’t so much that I didn’t have anything to write. It was more that I didn’t have the time or energy to express my thoughts in writing. The month of May was ridiculously stressful for me. In my new job as director of alumni engagement for a law school, I am also in charge of organizing graduation activities, including the ceremony which involves nearly 2500 graduates, faculty and guests. This was a completely new experience for me and, as I learned, an all-consuming task. In the weeks leading up to graduation, I was often working 12 hour days and then coming home to continue to respond to emails from anxious soon-to-be-graduates or their parents. I was thinking (stressing) about it non-stop. I even started dreaming about it. Scary, right?
On top of it, I had freelance writing and social media assignments to complete – the kind of projects which have deadlines and actually pay me money, so of course when I did have time to do anything outside of my day job, those had to come first. At the end of the day, as I found my eyes drooping shut as I tried to type away on my laptop, sleep had to come before blogging.
I also wasn’t sure that I really wanted to share a lot of what I was thinking. My workload left me stressed out and resentful and being so closely involved with graduation made me reminisce and reflect, but not really in a good, happy way – more in a sad, regretful way. I started writing a couple posts and then felt like I was being too depressing or that I was complaining too much and I didn’t want to do that. I want to be honest with this blog, but I don’t want to bring you guys down too much, you know?
In the end, I didn’t want to force myself to write something just for the sake of writing it.
So I didn’t.
And then Memorial Day Weekend came along. I was able to take Friday off as well, giving me a sorely needed four-day weekend. A month ago, I had looked ahead to Memorial Day Weekend as a chance to work on my e-book of travel tips for the former Soviet Union and get it close to ready for publication. Instead, I had an epiphany and realized I don’t really want to move forward with the e-book. I had to admit to myself that I didn’t keep good enough notes during my travels and that the information is likely changing so quickly that much of what I might write could be well out of date by the time I finish. More than anything, I accepted that writing the e-book was something that I felt like I should do and not something that I really, truly want to do.
So I called it quits.
Instead, my glorious four-day weekend included cleaning my apartment, running a 10 mile race (with a personal best!), doing a hop-on hop-of tour of downtown Chicago, shopping for summer clothes, watching the French Open, reading Torre DeRoche’s new book, writing 3 posts about Chicago and 5 posts about Russia for other sites and not thinking about my day job at all.
I also booked my flights for my trip to Nepal in September/October, researched my trip to Memphis in June and started daydreaming about a potential trip to a quite exotic location over the holidays.
I felt a weight lifted off of me as I let go of my plan to write an e-book. I renewed an earlier promise to myself to leave work worries at the office. I recommitted to eating healthy and working out regularly – two things that definitely fell by the wayside during the month of May. And I refocused on pursuing things that make me happy and ditching the things that don’t.
By Monday night, I was unstuck. My writer’s block was gone and I felt more relaxed than I have felt in months.
3 thoughts on “Battling Writer’s Block”
Katie, love you website and especially your blog posts on Turkmenistan. Keep up the good work!
Sometimes you need to take a break, even when you don’t think you should 🙂
It’s okay to take a break. It sounded like a stressful time just reading about it.
I just got back from Memphis (my bucketlist town and Memorial Day weekend holiday). It was an interesting town. Let me know if you want any tips!
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