In my last two articles, Why Is Writing About Trauma So Hard? and Scared Others Will Judge Your Writing? I talked about writing to heal. Specifically, I talked about the big fears that many writers experience when they realize they need to write the story of their healing journey. The fear can feel so strong that we become confused and full of self-doubt. And so, we put off writing our story, sometimes for months or years, and sometimes forever.
What writers don’t often realize is how writing our story is directly connected to our personal transformation. It’s common for many writers to experience a midlife awakening. This is when a person wakes up, realizes that the years are passing and they still haven’t fulfilled what they need to fulfill to carry out their life purpose.
Many of us have gone through difficult events in our lives and felt called to write about them. If we’ve experienced personal transformation through a healing journey, writing our story and sharing it with the world can become part of our healing. It’s one of the last pieces that needs to click into place in order for us to fully process those past difficult events and finally move forward.
So, much of the time, we need to write our story for ourselves, first and foremost. However, we also know that our story could help others. We want to share our story because we want to share the wisdom of all we’ve learned with people who are currently going through something similar and need help.
Many writers who have gone through trauma in their lives reach a point where they feel called to write about what they’ve experienced. But getting started can be extremely difficult. Obviously, it’s hard to revisit past traumatic events, but writers struggle with writing about trauma in other ways too.
Whenever we’ve gone through a healing journey in our lives, we’ve also gone through a huge transformation. The trauma we experienced pushed us to grow and change, and it’s not always easy to write about these changes, or explain them to other people. As a result of our experience with trauma, we may have worked on healing old issues, old ideas about our identity, and old limiting belief systems. The healing journey is never over, but we do get to a place where we realize we’ve experienced so much that could help others.
For most writers, writing is a strong inner calling. It feels like a passion that they can’t ignore, a destiny they must fulfill. And for writers who feel blocked, or are cut off from the act of writing for some other reason, the lack of writing in their life results in a state of low-grade misery. A writer who isn’t writing feels unfulfilled, listless, and can easily fall into creative despair.
Writer’s block is extremely common among writers. Most people assume that the most typical form of writer’s block stems from a lack of ideas, or a lack of motivation that comes from inside the writer. Writers themselves tend to assume this too. When we have problems writing, we most often blame some sort of “inadequacy” we see inside ourselves. However, the most typical cause of writer’s block that I’ve seen after so many years of working with writers actually comes from the outside.
Whenever I talk to writers about how anxiety shows up during the writing process, I usually ask them if they’re experiencing the most anxiety during the first draft stage, the editing stage, or the stage where they begin to share their writing with other people. And always, quite a few writers tell me that they experience the most anxiety before they even start ANY of the stages. It’s when they are thinking about beginning a writing project, or pushing themselves to actually sit down and do it, that they feel the most freaked out.
This strong, underlying anxiety about the writing process is rooted in perfectionism, and it causes writers to self-sabotage their writing goals before they even begin.