While I am Out: My Old Friend Paralysis

Note: I grew up in the printing plant my father owned, and he had a whole stack of pads titled While You Were Out, with check boxes and lines to fill in about things that happened in his absence. I am going to be out for a few days at a wedding, so I thought I'd fun some oldies but goodies.  Here's the second, from back in 2010:

My Old Friend Paralysis 6a00d8341cb7f353ef0120a91af143970b-320wi

Yesterday, all writing and other activities came to a screeching halt.  This happened suddenly.  Oneminute I was in the middle of a writing session.  The next minute I was paralyzed.  I realized that everything I had written was complete and total crap.  And that there was no use writing anymore, ever, for the rest of my life, because any new words that I put on the page would be even worse. 

Because of this epiphany that I could no longer write, I turned my attention to my to-do list, as long as always.  But nothing on it interested me. 

"Buck up", I told myself.  "It isn't supposed to interest you, it's your to-do list."

But I couldn't connect with a single item on it. Instead, I sat at my desk, paralyzed everywhere except for my over-active brain, which told me I was an impostor, a failure and stupid and unattractive to boot. This went on for a few minutes until I finally got up and cleaned the kitty litter.  Did some dishes and straightened the house.  These are all chores that generally go undone until I run and do it all in a panic at the last minute before someone gets home.  By the time I'd exhausted all the mind-numbing chores, I had only a few minutes left to write.  I forced myself back to it, and got some words on the page.  They weren't words that I was happy with, but they were words on the page.  By then, it was time to go to my acupuncture appointment, thank you God.

My acupuncturist, Hana, listened to my whining, told me I was probably having a healing crisis (I've been doing lots of acupuncture and hypnotherapy lately) and stuck extra needles in my crown and third eye chakras.  During the rest time, I dozed and snored for awhile, and then I woke up and started thinking about the novel.  Thoughts and ideas flooded in.  Oh wonderful movement, which feels so much better than being stuck!

I came home and made notes, not only on the novel but the entire process of being stuck.  And here are some of the antidotes I came up with, just in case this ever happens to you:

1.  Choose something, anything to do or work on, it doesn't matter what.  This is the Tough Love antidote.  May not be pleasant, but it will probably work.

2. Get in touch.  Maybe you've lost your connection.  Meditate.  Go deep.  What do you really want to write?  What do you really want to do at this moment?

3. Get away.  Go for a walk, clean the kitty litter, do the grocery shopping, whatever.  Sometimes just getting up from my desk allows the ideas to flow again.

4.  Move your body.  Take a walk, do yoga or Qi Gong, dance, march in place.  It is amazing how moving the body can sometimes loosen a logjam in the brain.

5. Take a nap.  If all else fails, sleep.

6.  Do something that gives you confidence.  Go back to something you're really good at and work on that for awhile.  It'll give you a boost.

7.  Listen to a motivational CD.  Never underestimate the power of some rah-rah attitude!  I put a CD in on my drive to acupuncture and it was already helping to lift my mood by the time I got there.

Okay, so those are my suggestions.  Anyone have an antidote to add?

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11 Comments on "While I am Out: My Old Friend Paralysis"

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J.D.
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J.D.
You have your own acupuncturist! Please tell me you didn’t fly her to Malibu with you. Talk about the life of the successful writer! You should have put all of us up. You could write a ten-line travel article and deduct the expense. Spouses included. There are places I dream of visiting–most of them places I have seen before. But old Thomas Wolfe title: You Can’t Go Home Again (or Malibu or wherever). Some of those places aren’t there, or if they are, they have taken on a new face. Oh, well. Time to make a new dream. Whatever trip… Read more »
D young
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D young
Get a pedicure. That’s what I did to re – “center” myself yesterday. I had a big, busy weekend. A lot of preparation went into just a couple days of ALOT going on. Yesterday, my “off” day, consisted of lunch with a friend I hadn’t seen in a while, a mani/pedi, and a walk with the hubby and dog. It was a wonderful way to regroup myself and become ready for the next two months. More preparation and training. I’m currently visualizing myself atop a mid level peak. Behind me? Down hill. The start of it all just two months… Read more »
Charlotte Dixon
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Next trip, I’m going to add my new chiropractor to the entourage, she’s got my body delighted to walk again, it’s wonderful! Maybe we should plan an expedition for all of us to enjoy? Mexico is lovely and I hear good things about Aruba? I’ll bring the writing exercises….

Charlotte Dixon
Guest

I love getting pedicures because they are so relaxing and you end up with good looking nails as well. I’m trying to get them more often and not deny myself, as I usually do! Sounds like you are making great progress towards your goal!

Leigh Lauck
Guest
Physical movement is such a help when it comes to paralysis of the brain, and these specific suggestions are great. The Tough Love antidote is also painful, but effective. Once I start to put words on the page — any words — something begins to take shape, almost always without fail. And lastly, yes, I am a big fan of naps. Sometimes lingering in the place between sleep and wakefulness, my mind opens up and ideas, even fully formed phrases, emerge. Often, that phrase plucked out of the subconscious is the doorway into my writing. Thanks, Charlotte! This series is… Read more »
J.D.
Guest
J.D.

Mexico … hum. I’ve heard Cabo San Lucas is great. It is a pricier ticket for those of us in east than, say, Cancun, of which I have also heard good things. Wrong time of year for either–don’t you think? Have to be in the fall or winter. Yes I could enjoy the beach in November, especially with free spine adjustments. On 2nd thought, with my body I can only go to the beach at night.

Charlotte Dixon
Guest

Hmm, weird, I replied to your comment and it never showed up. Odd! Well who knows the ways of the interwebs. And, I agree, once you can actually start getting words on the page something happens and before you know it, you’re writing. It is just getting to those first words that can be so damn difficult!

Charlotte Dixon
Guest

Let’s see, I was once on the Mayan Riviera just south of Cancun in March and it was quite delightful! To me the best time to go would be February, when it is rainy and dreary here. So what do you think? Mexico in February, with a chiropractor, reflexologist and acupuncturist along? With all that care, we’ll get lots of writing done!

Charlotte Dixon
Guest

Thank you, Leigh!  It's funny, I'm a life-long walker but over the last couple of years I developed a knee problem that actually was a sacrum problem.  I haven't been able to walk as much, but I just found the best chiropractor who has changed all that for me.  I'm re-discovering the joy of walking and dreaming up stories. It's the best!

J.D.
Guest
J.D.

That’s a possibility, but remember we are doing France in 2015.

Charlotte Dixon
Guest

I'm counting on you for France in 2015!

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