Emotional Writer's Block
Overcoming the Psychological Barriers to Writing Your Story
There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you
Despite emotional barriers to telling your story, you’ve got what it takes to do this.
You’ve probably heard the saying that “good thinking is good writing.” Well, it’s never more true than when you’re dealing with what some people call writer’s block. There are multiple reasons people get stuck in the middle of their writing projects, but most of the time it is more of an emotional block than an actual writer’s block.
Let’s examine these barriers.
Dealing with Your Abuse
If you’re writing a memoir, one of the biggest barriers might be sad memories. Abuse can leave you feeling vulnerable and unsure of yourself. Whether you’re sharing in person, or via blog, this is NOT the time to tell your story to others. You’ll want to process this pain and understand where it’s coming from before you hit publish. Don’t force yourself to meet a deadline if you’ve got open wounds that need dressing.
It’s not easy to revisit the bad times of your childhood or marriage. It can be embarrassing and messy at times. It might take some time to process and understand how these events have affected your life. To go there you might need the support of a therapist or a good friend.
Even Brené Brown the queen of vulnerability says she never tells a personal story that she hasn’t processed and healed from first. Binding your wounds is the first step to writing your story.
Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do. -Brené Brown
Dealing With an Abuser
Almost anyone who is writing a memoir is dealing with an abuser. Narcissistic people worry about what other people think of them and the act of telling your story could most definitely make them look bad.
If this abuser is still alive they will try to stop you in various ways. The first and most obvious is to call you a liar. It might hurt your feelings or make you angry to realize that your abuser is attacking you for telling the truth, but this is what liars do.
Chances are other people are already on to the narcissist for lying in the past, but in some cases, they can be very convincing. Trying to defend yourself against them will only make things worse. The best thing you can do is ignore them and focus on what you know is the truth. You aren’t writing your book for your abuser, you are telling what happened to a new audience.
When I first started to write my memoir, one of my relatives lied about me on social media. Her derogatory post about me attracted some people we went to church with years before. This lame church lady told her not to worry because they all know the truth. And my relative replied, “But the problem is that she’s finding an audience of people who don’t know us, so we can’t set the record straight.”
This narcissist flying monkey was inferring that she’d like to silence my voice from strangers so they can view my life through her tainted lens.
It’s very important to separate your story from other people’s expectations. Such evil attempts to silence you is just more proof that you must abso-frickin-lutely tell your story!
We can’t tear pages out of our lives. – Brené Brown
The good news is that you and I both have an audience beyond our abusers. We are not obligated to please the narcissist or flying monkeys. We can represent ourselves, thank you!
You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better. -Anne Lamott
Dealing with Toxic Religious Advice
The false ideas of some religious people can bring a whole new level of abuse. Such do-gooders often support abusers by telling survivors to forgive and forget. Sometimes they have no idea of what you’ve been through and they might not understand even if you explained what happened.
This type of critic is usually a fanatic or fundamentalist Christian. They care less about your story and more about being right. They enjoy telling others how to live. Don’t waste your time on them.
Such people are asking you to do something that Jesus has never asked. The Bible is full of stories about dysfunctional families. Jesus honors the truth and he always stands on the side of the abused.
Telling your story has nothing to do with forgiveness—unless you want to write about that. Telling your story is sharing the history of what happened. Whatever the other party and you do about that history could be part of the story or not.
When people play the God-card and tell you to be quiet about what happened to you, they’re asking you to play dead. You can try it for a while, but it will eventually affect your health and contribute to more addictions.
The body always remembers what the mind forgets.
So if you want to write your story, don’t allow your critics to scare you from telling it. The critics don’t count. It’s your sanity, your health, and your story. You get to decide what’s included and what you want to leave out.
Once you have dealt with the emotional aspects of your past, figured out that your abuser has no say in your life or writing, and realize you have the God-given right to tell your story, you’ll be set free from all of these barriers and find that your story flows.
Imagine You’re Talking to a Friend
Negative emotions can be offset by positive ones. It’s not enough to get rid of your critics, it’s also important to imagine your true audience. Think about the kindest and nicest person you know. Someone who always listens. Pretend you’re going out to coffee with them, then sit down to type. Start from the beginning and write like you’re telling your story to a good friend. Your voice will be more authentic and your personality will shine through your words because you’re speaking to someone you love. This is how you can tap into good emotions and enjoy the process. You got this!
Peace, freedom, and happy writing to you!
Here are a few short articles about this topic.