While I Was Away… Writer’s Block


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At the end of June this year, my blog turned 5 years old. It happened with little fan fair, and honestly, if Word Press hadn’t sent me a cheerful notification, I might have missed it all together. I didn’t write a post about it, just like I didn’t write a post about so many other things in the past many months. If you’re one of the wonderful people who follow my blog, you may have presumed I’m not blogging anymore… that my blog is dead. It feels that way to me, many days lately! When I first started blogging, and this blog was a newbie, it was very different. I blogged all of the time! I had a goal of three posts per week, and I rarely missed a post. Lately, my goals are blurred, and I post so seldom, that when I do, a lot of people who once read my work, don’t even notice I’ve done anything.

I can’t blame readers for drifting away. The Internet is an infinitely exciting place, but an equally fickle space as well. If you’re going to draw and keep readers, you have to keep putting material out there. If you can’t find the words to say something, someone else will find and use those words, in your place. You must keep the proverbial balls in the air, or folks move on to the hula hoop artist, or the singer, or the countless other talented acts that vie for attention! Let me say this clearly: if writing things in my head counted for anything, or if the 39 drafts in my draft folder were ready, I’d have a year’s worth of work, and I wouldn’t feel like I’ve lost my mojo, entirely. If thoughts and ideas wrote themselves, I wouldn’t be stuck. But blog posts don’t write themselves, and I am stuck. Stuck like lint on velvet.

It’s not just the writing; it’s everything I love most about the blogosphere, that has me stuck right now. There are bloggers who I have followed for a long time–– people I’ve come to know, and care about, through both their writing and the personal connections we’ve forged. I have felt good about the fact that even when my own writing is going slowly, I’ve kept up with theirs. I’ve read other blog posts; I’ve commented, and stayed connected, even when my own writing limped. Lately, even that has suffered. My inbox, for blogs I follow, is at just over 1,000 right now. Those posts are sitting there, waiting for me to go through, and read what I can, delete what I can’t, and clean up the glut. The problem being: I don’t see any of it as glut; I love these writers, and what they write. I don’t just hit Like and move on. I read these posts! I feel a real commitment to honoring the words they’ve put down. And yet, there are the 1,000+ notifications, blinking each time I open my mail. I’ve never been this far behind!

That very full inbox is a daily reminder that I’m not on my game. It’s a constant nudge, telling me that I need to do something… I need to move forward. Trust me: I don’t need nudges or reminders; I’m perpetually aware of my stuckness. I think about it pretty much every day, several times a day. It sings me to sleep and greets me at the coffee machine. It does not respond to “Go the fuck away!”

I’m not even sure how I got here–– to this awkward state of perpetual procrastination and indecision. It snuck up on me as most sticky things do: little by little, until the problem seems too big to tackle. There are valid excuses to fill a page: First and foremost, my daughter moved to Israel (after four years of going back and forth), fell in love, got pregnant and had my gorgeous grandson. She got married. These are big things for a mother to watch from afar. I have spent more than 25% of the past year traveling back and forth between the Pacific Northwest, where I live, and Israel, where these three people I love live. Admittedly, at my age, all that travel, all that childcare and helping out, all those adjustments, have taken a toll. I’m really tired. All the time.

On top of that big preoccupation, my life has been in major transition. In the past year I’ve had my two nephews, my sister, and my two youngest children, all move back or into my home–– sometimes all at the same time, for varying lengths of time, up to a year. I’ve been busy putting out fires and trying to find some balance, amidst the chaos. I’ve been grieving some hard things, and figuring out how to keep my head up. I’ve been busy working at Hospice, a place that I adore and feel very connected to. I’m good at it, and I love the connections I make, but it isn’t always easy work to do. I’ve been busy adjusting, as all of those people just as suddenly left my house, and I found myself with the proverbial Empty Nest… for three blurred weeks. It was good, really good. While I had worried that I would feel unanchored, or lost, I liked the solitude and freedom. That realization is the current light at the end of my full house tunnel… as my newly 1-year old grandson, my daughter and my college age son, have been with me most of the summer, following a wedding. This will pass, and I now know that while I will miss them when they leave, I can look forward to slower days, quieter nights, and less on my plate.

And yet, as a woman who has spent 26+ years raising children, helping people I love, and being incredibly preoccupied, it is equal parts thrilling and daunting to know that in two days, my life will be my own… for the first time in nearly thirty years. I will not be able to blame distraction and procrastination on others. In this past year, I’ve taken a good, hard look at boundaries, limit setting, and letting go–– three things I was never terribly good at, and realized that I like them. I won’t go so far as to say they’re easy for me, but I’m in a new space with these things, and I know this new period in my life will look very different from where I’ve been.

Finally, writing has gotten in my way. In 2015 I was named a BlogHer Voices of the Year. I’ve also written a lot for Huffington Post over the past year, and was named on their Top Ten Bloggers to Watch list. Both are wonderful things, but the second has really played into my writer’s block; because, while it’s been very rewarding in my ways, it’s also taken me away from my own blog and the connections I worked so hard to build. People tend to make a lot of assumptions about writing for HuffPo. Sure, it feels good to have my work read by a wider audience; I can’t deny that part. Admittedly, there have been moments when it’s gone to my own head. There were a few posts that did very well (thousands of readers-well), and it’s really hard not to think that you can just do that over and over. It’s hard not to get caught up in trying to one-up yourself, when my writing was never about that.

With the rewards there have also been tough lessons. People who read my blog, read it because they like my writing and support me. It’s a wonderful thing to put things out there, in a way that resonates deeply within myself, and feel supported by others. There’s a relationship there that means a lot to me. When you write for a source as big as HuffPo, however, there are plenty of people who are just waiting to tear you down or find fault. There have been some incredibly wonderful responses (if you check out my piece on Hospice, for example, you can skip my writing and simply read the comments; there are stories in those comments that renew my faith in humanity and connectedness), but there have been some truly heinous ones as well. If you read my piece on a massacre in Israel, my first piece for HuffPo, you may find some of those comments as horrifying as I did. Anti-Semitism doesn’t begin to cover some of the truly hateful things that were thrown my way, and one person sent me a private message telling me that they wished my daughter would be killed, so I would understand how Palestinian mothers feel. Let me say here: that I don’t believe the piece I wrote warrants anything near that level of vitriol.

So, in the process of seeing my work reach by a much wider audience, I also lost my sense of connectedness, to the readership that I had worked so hard to cultivate over the previous four years. In trying to find good writing to submit to HuffPo, I didn’t spent the same energy feeding my own blog, and the me that thrives in that sacred space. Posts have become further and further spread out. My energy is zapped, from keeping up with a personal life that has had some truly hard challenges over the past couple of years, and trying to write in a meaningful way, when the bar has changed.

My blog turned five years old several weeks ago, and I didn’t give it its due. I didn’t honor that accomplishment and pause to acknowledge that I’ve worked hard to get here. I didn’t pause to celebrate the relationships that have been forged from this place where I write, and connect. I’ve made connections that have meaning in my life, and in feeling stuck, I’ve allowed those to drift. I’ve missed writing for the love of writing. I’ve missed the people that have supported my writing, and the relationships we’ve shared. I’ve been stuck, but I need to change that. I need to put my writing front and center again, and commit to it. I need to write. And so, I will… I hope I will find the magic and rhythm again, and I hope some of you will jump back on board!

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©2011-2016  All content and images on this site are copyrighted to Dawn Quyle Landau and Tales From the Motherland, unless specifically noted otherwise. If you want to share my work, I’m grateful, but please give proper credit and Link back to my work; plagiarism sucks!

About Dawn Quyle Landau

Mother, Writer, treasure hunter, aging red head, and sushi lover. This is my view on life, "Straight up, with a twist––" because life is too short to be subtle! Featured blogger for Huffington Post, and followed on Twitter by LeBron James– for reasons beyond my comprehension.
Aside | This entry was posted in Awareness, Blog, Blogging, Dawn Quyle Landau, Honest observations on many things, how blogs work, Life, My world, Tales From the Motherland, Writing and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

29 Responses to While I Was Away… Writer’s Block

  1. mamaheidi60 says:

    Ah. Here I am. Reacting particularly to your comments of negative remarks/comments/critique on some of your blogs. You put yourself, your heart, your guts out there and sometimes the reaction is just carelessly stomping on you. It feels awful! I’m connecting to a place in my own life right now where I’ve put myself out wholeheartedly and so also exposed myself to criticism, rejection and it leaves me feeling so unappreciated! Mulling over what I need to do. Know what I need to do, but it is painful. As for blogging, you were so encouraging to me! I wrote with discipline for a while, but have left it untouched for weeks. I just was recommitting myself to finishing up my travel blog. Why haven’t I? I don’t know. I want to. I have the time certainly. I just don’t. I will say that I feel a bit of a renewed energy with September. I always feel September is the beginning of the new year and I can start anew. I think that is what you will do also. I look forward to seeing where this year takes you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the words of solidarity and support dear Heidi. You always tune in, in such a meaningful way. I hope you’ll finish writing those posts; I have loved reading them! I suppose we will both have to keep working on blocking out the dark and negative, to allow for more light! Thanks! xoxo

      Like

  2. Mary Ellen says:

    Just starting writing down what you want and see what comes of it. Don’t put pressure on yourself. There are studies that procrastination creates an environment that inspires more ideas. Maybe you’re are just waiting till the right one comes along.

    Like

    • Thanks Mary Ellen! You always inspire me to stretch. I have the ideas, I just need to type them out… this was that start! I’ll be in the Boston area in October, for my hs reunion. Hope we can connect then! xox

      Like

  3. Laila says:

    That is just the way life is – sometimes we are full of things to share and have the energy to do so as well. And sometimes we don’t. And I think that a lot of us will still be around when ever you find your writing mojo ☺

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Cathy Ulrich says:

    Dawn,

    This post is so wonderful and so you. Life is rich, complicated and sometimes messy. Those of us who love you and so enjoy your writing, can be patient while you live your busy life. I, too, have slowed down on posting as other things have demanded my attention. But I’m grateful for the connections that I’ve made on this platform, and in particular my friend, the short redhead!

    Hugs,

    Cathy

    Liked by 1 person

    • Who are you calling short? 😉 Cathy, you’re always there, and I so appreciate it. That we have expanded this into a breakfast or museum date occasionally, is buttercream frosting! What a very lovely morning on the prairie!

      Like

  5. Welcome back, Dawn! Good to see you. xo

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  6. To be truthful with you Dawn, your posts have been swallowed up by the priorities of my inbox, particularly over the summer but the irony is that I’m now reading a post about your blogging break at a time when I’m coming bak to you! My blogging took a major back seat around a year ago for a few months after a bereavement and too many other things to go into here. So I know where you’re coming from. It’s good to be back to reading your posts and to have you back 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m so sorry to hear about your hard year, but can relate. I feel like I’ve spent a year figuring some things out, and my writing has just suffered. It’s so nice to be back in the groove… though, I probably shouldn’t assume I’m out of the woods yet! 😉 Thanks so much for the support!

      Like

  7. Happy belated birthday! My past year was full of things that took priority over blogging… it happens sometimes and that’s okay. Sometimes other things need tending to more. Welcome back.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. sara says:

    Dear Dawn, sometimes we need to just rest from our blogs. I’ve been blogging for four years now, and have taken one or two breaks. I always miss it, but sometimes I’m just not writing like that. I reckon delete that entire inbox – don’t even try to catch up. Start with a clear slate to match your newly cleared house and your empty mind. No expectations, no obligations – and then see what comes, if anything. Be ok with either. And that’s the end of my pep talk!
    Ps I love seeing whatever you write, because I can feel you at the back end of the words, and that’s what matters!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I have missed you being around but life is life, right? We all need to walk ( or run.. like me) away for a bit. I do miss the connections as WordPress feels different these days but nonetheless, I do enjoy it. I like that wonderful people like you float around and read my words that I fling about — and I love reading your well-crafted posts. Always.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much Audra. I too miss a lot of people who I’ve connected with, thru’ our writing. It does seem like WP has changed, and become a bigger place, but it’s in these wonderful circles of friends that I feel the best! Thanks for circling the wagon for me. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  10. HonieBriggs says:

    Reader drift, it’s for real. All we can do is work with what we’ve got on any given day. I can relate to a lot of what you said here. The ever increasing pace of events not in our control, being stuck in the space between my thoughts and the keyboard. I’ve used my blog as a substitute for therapy and have immensely enjoyed the relationships it has brought into my small corner of the world. Because of that I am ready to move forward, in a significant way, from so much of what was holding me back. Onward! Congratulations for all of your accomplishments. We really do need to have coffee sometime.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Mike Lince says:

    I can relate, Dawn. especially when one writes as you do – from the heart. I think your style of writing takes courage, and that isn’t always available in steady supply.

    As for me, I had to decide if my blog owned me or if I owned my blog. I feel no sense of loss by stepping away from writing. When we are back on the road, I will have more stories to share. In the meantime, I remain your steadfast follower and supporter, just as I have been from the beginning. You have earned your place in my world. – Mike

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mike, you have supported me thru so much, at this stage; thank you for that! I really do look forward to you getting back to your adventures and writing, but I agree: it’s good to know who owns who! We all need to own it… whatever the it is. 😉 Thanks! xox

      Like

  12. Agree with above– don’t be so hard on yourself! Your blog friends are your faithful readers and proud of your work, wherever it appears! I take breaks for weeks it seems and my followers and comments have dwindled, but I still like the forum and you never know when a post resonates with a reader. Keep on writing!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Charlene says:

    You gotta do what you gotta do! Life can make us be in funny places both physically and mentally.

    Like

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