Artist, Heal Thyself

Remember that old proverb, Physician, Heal Thyself?  I know its literal meaning is to make sure before you try to correct others, you are not guilty of the same faults. But I think most of us interpret it another way . . . we take it to mean that sometimes those of us who should know how to heal ourselves don’t do it. Either out of denial or impatience or egotism or an unwillingness to admit we’re not sure how.

That expression has been popping into my head a lot the past few weeks. Why? Because as much as I’m enjoying writing my new book, I’m also feeling very stuck. More stuck than I have felt with any story in a long time. And none of the advice I would give to my coaching clients or fellow writers seems to apply to this project. Oh I’m sure it does, but I just can’t see it. Or maybe I’m just being stubborn, like a doctor who knows what pills he should be taking, but still refuses to take them.

And the depth of my writer’s block is also shocking and a little scary. I’ve been a professional writer for 25 years, and I have six books and hundreds of publications under my belt. Shouldn’t I know how to do this by now? If I’m this stuck, does that mean I’m not as good of a writer as I’d hoped I was? Not as good as I worked so hard to become?

Maybe this book is a wake-up call, an opportunity to realize I still have much to learn. I recently picked up a new book on writing called Story Genius, which several of my friends have recommended. I’ve also been paying more attention to articles on writing lately. I’m revisiting how I wrote the first six books and searching to better define my own methods. And I’m giving myself permission to be stuck. This book clearly has something to say that I’m not hearing, so I need to quiet my mind and listen. And you can’t do that if your inner critic is shouting you down.

I’m also holding onto hope that maybe because this book is giving me so much trouble, it will wind up being the best book I’ve ever written. Because you gotta believe, right? But I’m also telling myself it’s okay if it’s not the best book I ever write. There will be other stories to tell, and maybe there’s a purpose to this one I just don’t yet understand.

Or maybe I should take my own advice and figure out what is making me feel stuck. Heal myself, so to speak. So I think I’ll watch my video, “The Seven Types of Writer’s Block,” and see if that helps. Can’t hurt, right?

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