by Pascale Potvin.
As writers, we can sometimes feel stuck inside of our own bodies. What do I mean by this? Well, in a world in which everything is constantly labelled, writers are no exception: we’re genre writers vs. literary writers; we have distinct styles of writing; we become known for our past work. Unfortunately, this often leads us to feel confined to one particular identity. We feel blocked, as if we must keep in-between the walls of our own creation.
That’s not to say that the labels that I’ve just mentioned are necessarily malicious or even bad. In truth, they’re unavoidable, and they’re created constantly—even when our friends and family are praising our work. When they tell us, “I like the way that you do so-and-so,” they’re sticking a definition onto us.
The same is even true when they tell us, “you’re a great writer”. And even if we don’t become ‘known’ for any particular work among the public, we still often do among our loved ones. Unfortunately, though, kind words can sometimes pressure us to continue on with our ‘legacy’; in result, we might feel absolutely unable to do so. So, what do we do?
There is no possible way, and often not even good reason, to eliminate the words of others, of course; we can, however, change the way that we perceive them. Letting go of pressure and simply typing at the keyboard, thought-free, is the key of stepping out to the other side of any walls constraining us. Of course, this is can be easier said than done; escaping writers’ block is a skill that, for many, needs to be practiced again and again.
For this reason, though, an amazing way to practice has been discovered; it’s daily journaling. If you’ve read this article this far, you’ll probably want to try it. Knowing that nobody’s going to read your journal, you’ll feel no pressure to be ‘great’—or even ‘good’—when you’re writing in that space. The only kind of writer you’ll have to be is you. There will be no confinements (other than the edges of the page, of course) and you’ll be free experiment with, and even find, your writerly voice. You can read more about the emotional benefits of journaling here and here.
As it turns out, journaling is freeing in a lot of ways, and one of the best things you can do for yourself is to pick out one you like, get a pen with the right grip and heft, and set aside 10-20 minutes per day, either first thing when you wake up or as the last thing you do before sleep, and write.
Write whatever you want, for yourself, and for your own pleasure.