Do you have Writer’s Block? You know, the feeling that stops you from sitting down to write? It prevents you from starting a new story or blog. It halts your work in progress like a naughty pony skidding to a stop in front of a jump (usually tossing her rider over her head to a crash landing on hard ground). It sends you into the kitchen or bathroom to clean until the house shines, or out on a shopping spree, anything to avoid the blank screen or page. Yeah, that’s the feeling.
Over the last few years, I’ve read a lot about Writer’s Block. Lots of people write about it and propose solutions or ways to deal with it. Force yourself to write. Give yourself a break from writing. Sit down and write anything that comes into your mind, even if it isn’t related to your work. Journal. And more. All are good ideas, and I’m sure they help some people. However, I’ve never heard of anyone approaching the problem the way I do.
I’d like to propose an experiment. The next time you get this feeling, stop and sit with it for a minute. Don’t try to force yourself to write. Don’t beat yourself up for not writing. Don’t get busy so you can avoid the feeling, telling yourself you’ll get back to writing later. Don’t try to psychoanalyze yourself into revealing the deep-seated fears that prevent you from working.
Sit. Breathe. Feel. Wait.
Now, change how you think. Instead of labeling your feeling, Writer’s Block, call it something else. Call it Resistance. Say out loud to yourself, “I’m resisting writing at this moment.”
How is this different? If something blocks you, you’re stuck. You might envision yourself stopped by a giant, brick wall, or some other obstacle that is much too difficult to break through. You’re passive. There’s nothing you can do about it.
However, if you are resistant, you have the power to change. You’re in charge and you’re only holding yourself back.
Now sit with the idea of resistance rather than block for a minute. Notice the resistance with curiosity instead of judgement. Oh, I’m resistant to writing today. I wonder why that is? See how different that is from, I have Writer’s Block. What’s wrong with me?
The truth is, there’s nothing wrong with you. Everyone feels resistant to doing things sometimes. It’s easy to understand when you’re resisting doing something you truly don’t want to do, like going to the dentist. It’s harder to understand when you’re resisting doing something you love, like writing.
In addition to writing, I also ride horses. (You might have figured that out from the pony reference above.) I love horses and riding. But some days, I don’t want to go to the farm and take my lesson. I’m resistant to it. If I sit and let myself feel my resistance with curiosity, sometimes I realize it’s because I’m tired, or fighting a cold, or scared of falling off and getting hurt. Maybe my body just wants to be comfortable and staying inside in the air conditioning is a lot more comfortable than putting on long pants, boots and a helmet and then exerting myself in 90+ degrees. Maybe I’m worried I won’t perform well. Riding lessons involve getting yelled at a lot. Whatever the reason, some days, I feel resistance. After I notice resistance is the little voice whispering in my mind, Cancel that lesson. Stay home. You know, you really need to clean the house, I know I can either decide to take the lesson or skip it, but it’s my decision, not something outside myself preventing me from doing it.
Writing is the same way. Once you realize that the little voice is your own, it doesn’t seem so overwhelming anymore. The awful feeling is not so strong because you have interpreted the situation differently. Maybe you’ll decide to skip writing that day. Or maybe you’ll decide to sit down and write just a few words. Before you know it, you may have written a lot.
In counseling, we call this technique reframing. It works because most of the time our emotions result from the messages we give ourselves about a situation, rather than the actual situation itself. For example, if you’re driving and someone speeds by you at 100 mph, you might think: That reckless person is going to cause an accident! That’s terrible. You get mad. Adrenaline spikes in your bloodstream and you’re ready to fight, or at least give the person a piece of your mind.
But what if the person speeding by you is driving an ambulance, with lights flashing and siren blaring? That’s different. You might think: There’s an emergency and they’re on their way to help someone. You don’t get mad. Your main concern is to get out of the way, so they can reach their destination.
Reframing works just as well when we do it for ourselves as when a counselor does it for us. Try it when you’re feeling resistance to writing. Say to yourself, “Well, I notice I’m resisting writing today.” How does that feel? Is it less debilitating than thinking, “I have Writer’s Block”?
I’d love to hear from you. Did this experiment help you? Or not? Do you think this is a completely crazy idea that can’t possibly work? That’s okay. There’s no universal cure for much of anything. Maybe you have a better idea, or something that worked better for you. I’d love comments.
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Water Dreams Loves’ Siren Song, Book One is the story of Nik, a young woman of Greek heritage, who lives in Tarpon Springs, Florida and is terrified of water. She meets a shape-shifter merman who wants her help. When they fall in love against the laws of his people, they are forced to find a way to save themselves and Nik must overcome her phobia. Published by Foundations, LLC, it is available from Amazon, Foundations https://www.foundationsbooks.net/ and other major online retail sites.
The Sea Witch and the Mage is a novelette (10,000 words) set in the same world as Water Dreams. It is free on KU or $.99 on Kindle. Athenia must avenge the death of her twin sister and save herself from the same fate, but she can only do it by betraying her magical lover. Trigger warning: This book briefly references rape and has explicit sex and violence.
I grew up in a magical realm where winter never comes, we find dollars on the beaches, stars in the water and mermaids in warm springs. Yes, of course, that place is Florida. The dollars are made of sand, the stars are fish and the mermaids are in Weeki Wachee. A state park that started out as a privately-owned tourist attraction in the 1940’s, it features natural springs that remain 74 degrees all year long.
I learned to swim at the park. Every morning for an enchanted two weeks in the summer, I waited beside Highway 19 for the repurposed school bus that picked me up almost at my front door and transported me an hour away to Weeki Wachee. I wore my bathing suit underneath my shorts and carried my beach towel and a little cash for a snack.
When we arrived at the Springs, we entered the section roped off for swimmers and set our bags and towels down on the white sand beach. Shivering, we waded into the water an inch at a time. I will never forget the first day when I put my face in the water and blew bubbles, then learned to float. By the end of the week, I was dog-paddling and within a summer or two, jumping off the high dive.
Along with my swimming ability, I developed a fascination with mermaids. I watched the mermaids perform their show countless times over the years and never lost my admiration for their athletic ability and graceful swimming. As a teen, I wanted desperately to become a Weeki Wachee mermaid when I was older. Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be.
Although I practically lived in the water all summer, I also developed a healthy respect for it. Many times, when we swam in the Atlantic at New Smyrna or Daytona Beach, powerful waves caught me and rolled me over and over until they spit me out on the beach, gasping and sputtering salt water. Every year swimmers drowned, pulled out to sea by the undertow or rip currents. Water has power and it can be marvelous or terrifying, or both.
When I decided to write my debut novel, Water Dreams, I chose mermaids for the primary paranormal feature. I wanted a different take on the myth and so I created the Nerei, a race of shapeshifting mermaids and mermen, whose form on land is indistinguishable from humans. They want one thing above all else: freedom from water. Although they can exist on land, they must return to the water frequently to sustain themselves.
The heroine of my story is Nik, a young woman from Tarpon Springs, Florida, who is terrified of water. She doesn’t know how or why she fears it so much, but she won’t have anything to do with it. She never learned to swim and she won’t go near a beach or swimming pool.
The Nerei contact Nik and tell her they believe she holds the solution to their problem because she shares their DNA and can stay away from water. She doesn’t believe them and refuses to have anything to do with them.
Bas is a young Nerei male tasked with obtaining Nik’s cooperation. He doesn’t like humans much but he is fascinated with Nik. He can’t give up on convincing her to help them and he wants to keep seeing her. However, Nerei forbid relationships with humans and breaking the law is punishable by death.
Water Dreams is the story of how Nik and Bas bridge the gulf between them and their people. It is also the story of how Nik overcomes her water phobia. She experiences dreams about water throughout the book. The dreams start as paralyzing nightmares and progress during the story, becoming less frightening as she grows stronger, giving her hints and clues about how to work out her problems. Eventually, she gains control of the dreams, as she conquers her fear of water and overcomes the dilemmas presented by the Nerei.
Excerpt from Water Dreams:
She waded in, appreciating the satiny water on her skin, enveloping her naked body from her waist down, a velvety embrace. She looked at the stars glowing above her, and the full moon lighting the sky, making a shining path on the cenote. She listened to the tree branches soughing in the breeze, the Whippoorwills calling. There was a sense of timelessness about the moment that made her feel like a twig in a river. She created a tiny ripple in the stream as it passed along. The cenote and the woods were there long before she arrived, and would endure long after she was gone.
Nik dove into the water, gasping at the cold. She swam several hard strokes until the blood sang in her veins, warming her inside out, then turned over onto her back and floated.
When she heard splashing behind her, Nik gasped, imagining an eerie creature shared the depths of this pond with her. However, Nik saw a familiar shape and realized Bas was swimming with her. He was in his Nerei form. His massive tail slapped the water, arcing radiant drops over Nik’s head and into her face. She spluttered, going under for a minute before surfacing behind him. She didn’t have a tail to splash Bas, but she surprised him, and dashed him with a handful of water to the face. They played for a little while, chasing one another and laughing.
Bas had a huge advantage. Because he swam so much faster, she couldn’t get away from him. Bas caught her, held her close to him, and looked into her eyes. In the moonlight, Nik could see Bas well. He smiled at her. He circled her waist with one arm. He used his other hand to stroke Nik’s hair. Bas’ chest pinned Nik’s naked torso against him and she wrapped her legs around his waist. Both hot and cold swept over her at the same instant, a tsunami of sensations she had never imagined, much less experienced. She feared she might pass out. Bas didn’t say a word, but he lowered his mouth to Nik’s and kissed her, first softly and then hard. Nik kissed him back, her head spinning.
Katherine started writing stories in grade school and always intended to write novels someday but she put off writing fiction while she raised her family and worked as a clinical social worker at four different Veterans Affairs Medical Centers around the country. Although devastated to learn that her first career choice—mermaid, was not realistic, Katherine found helping veterans and their families fulfilling. She lives with her husband in Homosassa, Florida and Falling Waters, West Virginia. Water Dreams, Katherine’s debut novel, is a paranormal romance set in Tarpon Springs, Florida and is the first book in the Love’s Siren Song series. It is available in print or e-book from Foundations, LLC, Amazon, and other on-line retail sites.
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