A blinking cursor on a blank computer screen is one of the few things in life that can bring me to my knees. Pretty innocuous looking one might think but when viewed through my eyes he’s a vicious little black line of evil. He taunts me with a few cursory barbs. “What are you going to write today Victoria?"
“There’s a whole page here with absolutely nothing on it and you have to fill it.”
He starts to snigger and blink a little faster as he adds a parting retort.
“And after all that effort, no one will read it and no one will care”.
Like I said. He’s vicious.
On a typical day we run through a variation of the above dialogue. Then we move back into our respective corners and glare at each for about ten minutes before I work up the courage to type a few words on the page. Any words will do initially; they don’t even have to form coherent sentences. I just need to see something other than a white void staring back at me. Once I start with a word or two, a few more materialize from my fingertips onto the screen. Suddenly, a whole sentence appears. Before I know it I’m a paragraph in and Sergeant Major Cursor has been silenced. For the time being.
But recently my tried and tested approach hasn’t been working. The spigot of words which once poured forth has seemingly run dry. My writing mojo has gone AWOL and I am at a loss as to how I go about finding it. If only Big Pharma made a little blue pill for writing dysfunction.
It’s a strange feeling being disconnected from your passion, and not an enjoyable one. There’s a sensation of panic that this could be the grand finale and whatever creative passions you experienced previously are behind you now. A fluke. A one-off. Sayonara writing career.
If this comes across as a tad dramatic that’s because in my head it feels that way. Feeling disconnected from something that you love can feel much like being blindfolded and then released into unchartered territory without a map. Completely lost.
As I found myself somewhere between disconnection and emptiness I had a flash of insight. What if this experience is actually serving a purpose?
By mentally reframing my dilemma I took a step back and began to look at the situation anew. So what if Sergeant Major Cursor and I aren’t talking right now? What can I do in the interim to ensure those remaining brain cells responsible for Imagination and Creativity don’t wither and shrivel up into nothingness?
I know I’m not alone here. Being disconnected from your work or passion, whatever that might be, is something that I’m sure every single one of us experiences at one time or another.
In all likelihood if we never came up against these walls of resistance and maintained our prowess, incrementally improving every day then we would probably be Beyoncé.
Unfortunately these blocks are part of the process. Adversity can often be a conduit to life experience. It’s how we learn. And so, after going through this experience I learnt three important lessons that have helped me to remain calm and stay focused when I lose my mojo.
1. This Feeling Is Temporary Unless you recently had a brain lobotomy there is no chance that these feelings of disconnection will last forever. Know that this too shall pass. Grasping this simple, but powerful lesson can help us to put everything into context. It gives us power over the situation instead of feeling powerless. Take a break. Stop trying to force something if it isn’t happening. More often than not, its when we are busy being distracted that some of that passion comes creeping back in.
2. Be Kind To Yourself During these barren times when nothing seems to be working, practice lots of self-care. This one was a hard lesson for me especially when the temptation to feel that you have to punish yourself comes to the fore. Do the opposite. Do something you love even if it’s as simple as taking a hot bath or listening to some really vulgar 90’s rap music (a personal favorite of mine).
3. Do Something Different We all know that feeling when you travel somewhere new for the first time. You see everything through fresh eyes and a curious mind. I’m not advocating that we take a vacation every time we feel stuck in our lives. There are many ways to replicate this feeling of novelty in our everyday lives without packing a suitcase. Take a different route home from work. Explore a new part of the area where you live. Just do something you haven’t done before and tap back into that feeling of excitement.
In taking these steps we are effectively taking action. We begin to move ourselves out of stagnancy and towards the direction of our dreams. We’ve made it through the worst part. We feel ready to move forward, and just possibly, ready to face the blank page again.
Victoria Cox currently resides in NYC. She's a contributor to The Conversation, Tiny Buddha, Elephant Journal & Dumb Little Man. You can connect with her on Instagram @vcox23