Monday Dare: What level of Hell is this?

Every week, I challenge myself to a Monday Dare. Click on the link to see the complete list of Monday Dares or learn more about its origin.

This week: Overcome writer’s block

Every Monday morning, I sit down to write a Monday Dare around 7:20 a.m. and grant myself permission to step away only when my bladder threatens to explode or I feel faint from hunger. I guess that was a tad dramatic. But, my computer claims it is now 4:53 p.m., which means I’ve been sitting here for eight hours. Well, except for the brief fifteen-minute break I took to rummage through Cal’s jacket pockets. Sometimes, she has half-eaten candy and other fine snack treats hidden away.

Also, I did step away to pick Cal up from school, but that was only because I sent her an email in the early afternoon asking if she would mind walking the ten miles home from school, and she didn’t respond. I took that as a “no.” Silence speaks volumes, don’t you think? Not that I need to defend myself, but I just want to add here that most of those ten miles are DOWNhill.

I was planning to write about being a better mother, but after reading the last two paragraphs, perhaps you’ll understand why I decided against it. I mean, yes, it’s clear I’m going to need to make that a Monday Dare at some point, but this writer’s block is really starting to make me lose touch with reality, so I’m going to have to put this whole “parenting thing” on the back burner for now. She’s only in eighth grade. I still have almost five years before she leaves this house. Please don’t rush me.

I’ve had the great fortune of meeting writers who can churn out shitloads and shitloads of words. I don’t dare aspire to be one of Those People. If I really apply myself, I can also write shitloads and shitloads of words. The only problem is that they wouldn’t really be in any coherent order and a lot of them would be misspelled. Some of them might not be English words. Or real words.

The truth really starts to pour out when your forearms start to lose sensation because you don’t have enough muscle control to practice proper typing posture. How the fuck am I supposed to keep my wrists raised while tapping away at the keys with a light stroke PLUS maintain an open elbow position to promote circulation? Do I look like an athlete?

My feelings of inadequacy and fear of being the creator of tremendous shit keep me from writing more. At their worst, these fears keep me from writing at all. I just need to remind myself, “Be brave, be brave, be brave.” If that doesn’t work, “Stop crying like a little bitch” may do the trick.

Harv just said that I overcame writer’s block by writing about writer’s block. I don’t even understand what I just wrote. That is some Inception shit right there.

How do you face the fears which prevent you from doing the things you love?
Does writer’s block ever get you? How do you move past it?

P.S. NEW TWITTER HANDLE: @ElizabethJLiu (All the good thug names were taken.)
No more @NoShoppingLiz. That bitch was such a troublemaker.

P.S. A BIG shout-out to the GRIP of amazing women I met over the weekend at Bloggy Boot Camp Las Vegas. Thank you for not booing during my speech.Y’all were lovely and kind and funny and sharp and smart….all the things I hope to be one day when I grow up. Let’s stay connected on the Flourish in Progress Facebook page.
image via kjohansen’s flickr

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  • MarinkaNYC

    Writing block is my least favorite kind of block ever. EVER.

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Even worse than a cell block.

  • Heather Watson

    writers block sucks. my list of remedies usually ends with 2 margaritas. if all else fails tequila will make you do or say at least one thing worth writing about

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Tequila is my best friend. I mean, my worst enemy.

  • Monica Jamer

    When I have writers block, I don’t write. Very simple actually, it can take a few days to get over. Also, I would like to congratulate you on getting my mom to have jackass starred out in a blog post. It’s a major step for her, and hilarious to me!

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Usually, I don’t write either. I’m too busy sulking on the couch or generally acting like a horrible human being which takes up all my time.

      Congrats to your mama. A properly placed “jackass” in a blog post is a beautiful thing. Well, even the ones that don’t really fit aren;t that bad either.

  • chemegirljaime

    help.. I have writers block too.. I haven’t written in AGES and now it’s starting to turn into anxiety…. it’s crazy.

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      It just sort of spirals out of control sometimes. Block turns into anxiety and guilt which turns into…I don’t know past this point. I think I block it out from memory.

  • Jennifer June Clark

    I find writer’s block tends to be, for me anyway, an inability to focus. My mind is going several different directions, none of them entertaining, i.e. – what am I making for dinner?, the weeds in the yard are shameful…., howinthehell am I gonna get the girls to do their homework?, do we have enough wine to get me thru the evening?!?, those 7 loads of laundry are still unfolded in my room….., the goddamn cat is attacking the other cat…. the goddamn woodpecker is pounding on the house again!!!, this teenage drama is gonna kill me…., jesus, I’m tired…. –

    Only when an idea crowds out all the mundane bullshit do I write. And then it’s in spurts. Half a post here, go bake something. Finish the first draft, take a nap. Edit, make dinner. Edit again with a glass of wine and then publish.

    Maybe, as previously mentioned, you should drink more?

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      I have to be careful about trying to write and drink. That’s when the ugly stuff comes out. I mean, the ugly stuff not meant for public consumption. I mean, even more than the ugly stuff not meant for public consumption that I post here.

      Oh, P.S., Cal asked about buttercream frosting. Is that doable? I can tell she’s been thinking about this cake for DAYS.

      • Jennifer June Clark

        Hmm. I am planning a whipped cream-marscapone frosting. Will she be OK with that, do you think?

        • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

          Her Highness approves. Watch me email you 900 more times before December. Let me apologize in advance.

  • Elizabeth Barnes

    I face the fears by reminding myself of all the others that I’ve already beat down. Trust me, there have been many. Sometimes it works. And sometimes I go and cower some more in a nearby corner.
    As for writer’s block. Yeah. Been there. Done that. All I can say is write through the stuff that feels like garbage until the “good stuff” finally starts to show up again.

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      This seems to work for me most of the time as well, but I can’t help but think when I’m writing all that garbage about all the time I’m “wasting.” Although…I guess if it gets me to the good stuff, it’s not time wasted, but still….

  • Jen Reinmuth

    Whenever I have writer’s block I call up one of my friends to hang out. Then I essentially transcribe the entire event, throwing their sorry asses under the bus and capitalizing on their humiliation. Or, I spend the day with my fireman and make everyone physically ill by hearing about how amazing he is. Either way, problem solved.

    As for the fears that hold me back, I fight those every day. I had to make a huge emotional decision this week; one that absolutely broke my heart but had to be done. Sometimes it is a struggle to know which to listen to, the heart or the mind; but as long as I keep my children in the forefront, I know I can’t go wrong.

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Oh Jen, do you know that now when I hang out with my family and friends, they stop and ask after saying something “inappropriate,” “ARE YOU GOING TO WRITE ABOUT THIS? YOU BETTER NOT. I’M WARNING YOU NOW.”

      Whatever, that’s the price you pay for knowing me, fools.

      And friend, handing those emotional decisions like a real adult is always so damn difficult. “There’s a battle between what we know and what we feel.” I stole that from SATC, but it keeps me in check sometimes.

      • Jen Reinmuth

        I am a firm believer that Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda are the original Voices of Reason. They taught me everything I need to know about life and accessorizing.

        • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

          And sex. Well, for me anyway.

  • Alison

    I said to my husband a couple of weeks ago, “I don’t know what to write.” His response was to write about not being able to write.

    It was nowhere near as good or as funny as this.

    You rule.

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Our husbands sure do think alike. Is this where I have to use the whole “great minds think alike” thing? Cuz I really don’t want to. My husband has a big enough ego already.

  • Brittany Rae

    I overcome writers block simply by not writing. :-) but when YOU have a throne of readers waiting with bated breath for your every word… I understand the pressure.
    The post still was good.

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Lol. Thank you. I’ve never stayed with any one thing this long…so I’m just trying to go a not skip a week. Cuz 1 wk will turn into…probably forever.

  • Jennifer Ford Berry

    I sure do get writer’s block. More so on my blog than anywhere. I think it is because after hours writing a book I am all out of ideas unless I were to copy the same ones onto the blog. I am not sure if I shoud do this or not sometimes but lean toward not bc nobody would have to read my books! LOL Thanks for being real in this post.

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      I’m all idea-ed (probably not a real word) out after a blog post and can’t think of anything to write for any other outlet. Unless I siphon material from this blog. Totally feel ya.

  • Cindy

    My best cure for writers block is hanging out with my in-laws. Now that I think about, that goes for me and my husband! I always say his family gives me plenty of things to write about due to their lack of basic etiquette, and my husband says my family gives him lots of material to write about simply because they are crazy! ;)

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Maybe I need to hang out with your family.

  • Megan Gordon

    I do exactly what you just did – write through the block. The big problem comes when I cannot force myself to sit down at the computer in the first place. Oy.

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      It’s like there is a force field around this desk. That’s why I try not to get up. Because once I do….I won’t come back.

  • Guest

    I struggled with writer’s block until I started writing porn. (Funny how that worked.) Then I overcame my fear of being a porn writer by choosing a pen name. Of course, I just outed myself, but I’m not sure how to deal with my overwhelming stupidity.

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Good thing you posted as guest! =)

      Porn….perhaps I should try that. It would certainly be the most boring porn ever…but there would be some naked people…probably.

  • Princess Review

    I read some really good advice about getting past writers block once and it hardly ever fails. Promise yourself that you’ll try writing for 20 minutes. Set a timer if you have to. If the writing isn’t coming after 20 minutes, give up and go do something else. Usually I end up writing for much longer. Sometimes, the hardest part is just sitting down and doing it.

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Do you do else during these 20 min like surf the web or do you just stare at a blank page?

      I downloaded an app called Pomodoro last year and I set it for 20-30 min increments. I force myself to write whatever comes to mind during that time, but when I look back, it’s either a bunch of gibberish or Tupac quotes. =/

  • Kim

    Unfortunately my biggest problem is not so much writer’s block, it’s that I’m lazy as hell. Being unemployed for 2+ years means I now lack discipline and this thing called “work ethic”. I don’t have a schedule, I don’t have a whole lot of responsibilities I have to get to, hell I hardly have a social life. Thanks to BBC Vegas though, I just might start trying to be a bit more disciplined. Writer’s block is a bitch; sure, but laziness seems to be even worse, especially for me. Did I make any freaking sense?

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Oh, girl, total sense. I’m lazy as fuck. It’s like this overwhelming cloud that just weighs down on me. When I smoked and was jonesing for a cig so bad, I was sometimes too lazy to even walk 10 steps to the patio to smoke.

  • Chandra Bourne

    I’m with you on the downhill thing…seems perfectly reasonable from my end. As for the writers block, I tell myself that I am just writing for ME and vomit out whatever comes onto the page. Mostly it ends up being garbage but it gets me past the hump. And sometimes, within the mess, there is a germ of something. Seems like you solved your issue this time though!

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      I did spend about 30 min looking through all the cool biz cards I got in Vegas over the weekend. That didn’t help or anything, but it did entertain me enough to prevent me from jumping out the window. That one germ is sometimes enough to spark a post, but it’s wading through all the junk that’s hard sometimes.

  • Misty

    Well, I’ve heard the ole “just write something” when you have writers block, but I think that’s a bunch of bunk. If I had something to write, would I have writers block? No. No I wouldn’t. Thanks for all that help. When I really get blocked, I just take a break. And then immediately feel guilty as hell for not posting anything, and usually do a post about how sorry I am that I suck. So there’s that. And then eventually, something ridiculous happens to me so I can write about shit again. So, there you go. Go out and do stupid crap and then you will have something to write about. There’s my advice. Go forth and prosper.

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      I think making poor choices has become so standard for me that I need to get myself into some very deep and unusual trouble for it to trigger a “shit, I need to write about this nonsense” response. I’m afraid at some point, my upped tolerance will land one of us in jail. Me because I caused it and you because that might just be the night we’re kickin it.

  • B

    Knowing that failure is something you can learn from and moving forward is what I use to conquer fear. With that being said, I’ve had writer’s block many times. I’ve changed my blog, deleted posts, re-wrote posts, all in the name of trying to make it better. It happens when you want to be more creative I guess.

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Failure is my constant companion. I don’t like her or anything, but I do learn a lot from her when she decides to “learn me real good.”

  • The Sweet Spot Blog

    I am stuck inside Inception today myself!

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      I just wish Joseph Gordon Levitt were with us to ease our suffering.

  • Sarah

    Apparently I’ve had writers block for a while now because my blog has gone next to nowhere. I’m pretty sure I convinced myself that I’m really boring lately (read for a while) and whenever I’ve sat down to type that’s what comes to mind. That or my only frame of reference lately is work and I already work all day so why am I going to go home and write about it.

    I think the moral of this story is that I/you need more sleep. I think a good nap helps cure writers block, just try and remember what you dreamt cause you could possibly write about that? :)

    P.S. I almost just typed my work email below… definitely need more sleep…

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      OMG, I really REALLY do need more sleep. I can’t really function with less than 8-9 hrs a night and I’ve been getting 5-7 for the past few months. Hmmm….you may be on to something.

      Here’s to a restful night tonight for the both of us. xoxo

      P.S. Your posts are never boring. I speak the truth.

  • Stephanie

    Yup, I get writer’s block. I feel like I have nothing new to add to the vast black hole that is the internet. Then I tell myself that a black hole can hold an infinite amount of information so surly one more post from me won’t overload the system.
    But my real motivator is a cleaning woman. If I don’t write something amazing that goes viral I won’t get more readers. If I don’t get more readers I won’t generate any revenue from the adds on my page that pay .0001 cent per view. If I don’t generate any revenue I can’t hire someone to clean my house. If I don’t hire someone to clean my house then I have to do it myself. Needless to say my house is in a constant state of disarray and I’m still trying to think of something amazing to write.

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      I cleaned some gunk off a section of our dining room baseboards this weekend with a toothbrush. The thought of never having to do that would definitely be an incentive for me too.
      Plus, I would force this cleaning lady to be my friend and I would make her take breaks to have lunch with me and tell me funny stories. is that part of a cleaning lady’s job description…or no?

  • Rebecca Rider

    Totally relate to this. I move past it by doing boring things I need to do and have put off – like dishes. I’ll usually get inspired while my mind wanders aimlessly.

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      The last time I tried to do dishes, I was washing a wine glass by hand with no dishwashing gloves on and I guess I must have been holding it too tight because that bitch shattered in my hand. The pain kept me from writing. I guess that’s worse than writer’s block so I should probably just man up and write some shit so I won’t have to do dishes.

  • jennifer

    I don’t fancy myself a writer but a long shower helps me whenever I feel stuck just in general. Maybe it’s the white noise. Thrift/antique shops are a fun little escape for me too. Great meeting you this weekend! Great post regardless.

    • Jennifer Clark

      I do my best thinking in the shower. I believe it’s the soothing warm water, combined with the delicious solitude.

      • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

        @facebook-1025052888:disqus I talked about you over the weekend to a room full of women. Good things. Mostly.

        • Jennifer June Clark

          Oh, do tell! Mostly!

          • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

            Totally all good things. Just the way blogging has changed my life by meeting good people. Also, I think I bragged a little about not burning down your house.

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Jennifer from SB- Oh man, this is too weird. Remember I talked about that blogger turned friend who taught me to cook and lives on the Central Coast? Named Jennifer? Well, she commented on your comment before I got a chance to respond to you. Dis some freaky shit right hur

      Wonderful to meet you. You were fascinating to talk to.

  • leanne koh

    Who can think of something witty to say all the time? That’s exhausting. If it came so easy, then you really wouldn’t be livin’ that thug life. no struggles to write about, then where would you be?

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      That’s some real talk right there, girl.

  • HersHisandOurs

    Totally related to this post! I get writer’s block often! Totally relate to sitting in front of the computer and before you know it 8 hours has gone by. To conquer the writer’s block I read others blogs, everything interesting on the internet with hopes of getting some ideas flowing.

    Loved meeting you this weekend – your speech was inspiring. New fan of your blog!

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      I’ve been falling into the Pinterest hole of darkness lately. My, my just WHERE do those hours go?

      So very lovely to meet you. I loved your new venture idea and can’t wait for it to launch!

  • mommyonthespot

    Fear is a tricky bitch. Sometimes I don’t even know I’m scared,and when I look back, I’m all, I was totally scared. But my fear is often disguised as procrastination.

    I don’t have any real advice except 85% of the time when I do whatever it was that was scaring me, I feel like a giant weight has been lifted. Which is kinda ironic because I usually gain a lot of weight when I procrastinate. It’s hard to do what you need to do when you are *so* busy eating.

    For a long time, I felt that my writing was boring and some days I didn’t really have anything to write about. But in the last few month, I realized I was really just too scared to write about what I needed to. Now that I am, it’s like I can’t stop myself.

    Obviously. Have you seen the length of this comment?!

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      “Fear is a tricky bitch.” BOOM. A quotable right there.

      I live in a tremendous amount of fear. This leads to trips to Vegas. I literally need to escape the city of Los Angeles to get away from writing. Wow, that really makes me sound awesome. What a loser I am.

  • Bill-The Authentic Life

    Every week I face writer’s block and think that’s it, there is nothing left to write about. But sometimes a single word or phrase or image will pop into my head and before I know it, I have something.

    More than a fear of writer’s block though, is the fear that this week’s post will not be better than last weeks and that is what drives me.

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      My fear is that this week’s post WILL be better than last week’s post and it will never ever get any better than this one post and then I’m totally fucked.

  • Delfin Joaquin Paris III

    The only way I found to overcome my own writer’s block was to commit to writing every day this year. Almost over, thank Allah.

    I don’t achieve 10s (your weeklies are much stronger than my dailies), but hit singles and doubles each day. Knowing that I have nothing to write about every day forces me to come up with something to share, and to make it worthwhile.

    I’m not saying to do this. You’ll have to get used to less perfect posts. But you’ll never worry about sitting down and writing content again.

    Why am I not being funny in this comment? I’m letting myself down.

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      WOW. That’s some hardcore shit, D3. Is there a minimum daily word count? I would try this next year but I’m really trying hard to stay drug-free and this kind of brave and totally amazing commitment would maybe make me want to smoke crack again.

      Wait. What did I just say….

  • Roller Scrapper

    I’m not sure I’ve ever had writers block because I haven’t done a whole lot of creative writing, but I still enjoyed hearing about your creative process :)

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      If I had your talent for making the things you do, I don’t really think I’d be doing a lot of writing either. Macarons, holllllllllla.

  • Leslie

    I agree with the other commenters that writer’s block often comes from fear. For me, at least. I get overwhelmed sometimes by how many awesome writers are already out there, and even though writing is what I believe I am meant to do with all my heart & soul, I sometimes worry that I won’t be good enough. Then I can’t come up with ideas because I obsess over it being funny enough, or clever enough, or moving enough, or interesting enough. I wish I could just write and say oh well.

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      I always get obsessed over the fact that no matter what idea I come up with, someone has probably already thought of it before. And then I don’t want to do it because they did it better. Occasionally, I just have to throw my hands up in the air and say “Fuck it” and write anyway. It works out in the end…sometimes.

  • newfoundjoye

    I usually face my fears through prayer and determination. Writer’s block can get to me, but I’ve gained some help with it through NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month starts November 1 if you want to try it). Basically, just write even when you don’t feel like you have any good ideas. At the very least, you’re making progress and you can always edit.