Faith, Writing

On Blocking Writer’s Block

July 9, 2013

I’ve been fighting a bout of writer’s block the past few weeks, scratching my head and revisiting old ideas before calling it quits after staring at the computer screen for hours.  My computer  starts to feel like an adversary after awhile and that’s when I know it’s time to shut it down.

Mike occasionally walks by, stealing peaks over my shoulder and feigning disinterest at the glaring blank screen. He totally notices. I know he does, because the last couple of weeks he has repeatedly and spontaneously remarked, “Babe.  You’re a good writer.”

He says that because I’m not writing anything.

Some days I worry I’ve run out of things to say, even though deep down I know it’s not true.  The truth is that creativity requires both time and space: time to observe, space to explore, and inspiration to wake up with questions to chase down in everyday adventures. The chase has become harder recently, which I think is normal. Every creative has seasons where she doesn’t feel creative, where inspiration seems fleeting and reserved for everyone else.

I’m fighting through it, though. Don’t worry, this isn’t a blog-breakup conversation, it’s just an update of where I’ve been the last couple of blog-less weeks.

This morning I woke up early to try again, to chase after words.  As I laid in bed, still absorbing the echo of the alarm tone, I asked God to say something specific so I could write it down. It was a “please help me” prayer.

In the morning darkness, when the words didn’t come, I shifted gears. I got into the Word, knowing truth was hidden there. It always speaks loudly and specifically if I get quiet enough.

With a single dim light on, I sat at the rickety table in my sleepy house and read about Solomon. He was a guy  ordained for kingship, and yet when he took the throne he immediately prayed a “please help me” prayer. My bible translation actually quotes him saying: “I am like a little child who doesn’t know his way around.”

The king talks to God as a child talks to a Father.

He asks for help. Solomon admits a lack of direction and asks for an “understanding heart,” for wisdom. And the bible says “the Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for wisdom,” as if help was the very thing God was eager to provide.

I often find myself in situations where I don’t know how to proceed. I wonder what to write next, how to prioritize relationships, when to part ways with a job I halfheartedly attend.   I worry about the next 10 feet in front of me all the time.  And I’m quick to think that a lack of direction means I took a wrong turn along the way, that it’s my fault, that requests for help might be met by a disappointed God.

But what if He’s not disappointed at all?

What if He actually takes pleasure in the asking? in the helping? in the intervening?

And what if He’s been waiting for the invitation all along?

It makes me think that maybe He leads us directly into corners to teach us how to pray.

God certainly answered Solomon’s prayer. He made him the wisest man in history. And ironically enough, Solomon also went on to be a prolific writer, writing 3,000 proverbs and 1,005 songs in his lifetime (1 Kings 4:32).

Not bad, Solomon. Not bad.

I  eventually found a few words this morning, borrowed words, specific words. I arrived at the right question eventually.

“I am like a little child who doesn’t know his way around. Won’t you  give me an understanding heart?”

It’s the question I should have been asking all along, the one I had to get blocked into first.

  • Lydia

    You inspire me.

    • You inspire me. Unlike you, I have no idea how to tie a bowtie. I must re-watch your tutorial.

  • Susan

    Bekah, I am a friend of your in-laws and my daughter and I have been enjoying your blog the past few months. Mike is right, you are a good writer! I thought I would pass along something I read in the NY times regarding creativity and coffee shop noises in case you might want to give it a try or even blog about it 🙂

    http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/06/21/how-the-hum-of-a-coffee-shop-can-boost-creativity/

    Blessings on the journey,

    • Karen

      Bekah, I am Alyssa Hill’s aunt Karen – I’ve met you once or twice, maybe at her wedding festivities. She has referred your blog to her FB friends several times, and I always look forward to the reading of your heart. You certainly are a good writer. But more than that, you are a great transporter, if you will…. you transport people out of their everydayness into a deeper place, where most of us love to go, but sometimes need a guide. Your blog about the Boston shootings brought me to tears, but before you read that as a success, let me tell you I am a class A sap! Alyssa can attest. No, tears are not strange for me, but the picture you so artfully painted with words in that writing is before me still. Those were memorable tears. Keep writing, even in the dry spots, please – because now I’m totally hooked. 🙂

      • Karen-
        Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. Your words are incredibly encouraging to me. Thanks for joining in the journey, in the “transport,” as you say. Sending love.

    • Susan-
      Thank you so much for taking the time to comment and inspire me! If only you knew how much I absolutely adore writing in coffee shops. Coffee shops breed creativity– that is, if you can divert your eyes from all the marvelous people watching. I have a spot down the street that has become a favorite. If you are ever in San Diego, I would love to share a cup of a coffee with you!

  • Judi barbara

    Your wisdom is remarkable and I delight in sharing it via your writing – thank you.

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