Writers’ Block and Emotional Funks
You may or may not have noticed that my posts on Indecisive Traveler have been sporadic. Some weeks have gone by without a single post. I haven’t been as active on social media either. I wrote this post to try to explain my absence.
I am not going to sit here and type up a rant about how hard it is to be a travel blogger. I will not complain about how much I travel. I will, however, say that a travel-filled life is still a life, and it comes with all the ups and downs that any other life might.
I fell into a funk
I don’t know what better way to put it. I simply felt unmotivated and uninspired. Gradually, Netflix became much more interesting to me than reading and writing. Slowly, I put less and less importance on work that didn’t absolutely have to be done. Basically, if I wasn’t able to invoice someone for the work, I could not convince myself that it was important.
I could feel myself slipping. I knew I needed to try harder. I would wake up, do an intense workout and then sit down at my computer, all ready to go. I’d open up a word document and stare at it. I’d type out a title, erase it, try again, and then decide to try the body of the article first. I’d type out a couple of sloppy paragraphs, telling myself I’d clean them up once I got all my ideas out. What I discovered was, I didn’t really want to, so I couldn’t. After reviewing the crap I had written, I’d delete it all give up for the day.
Normally, I can knock out 6 solid articles on a really productive day. My funk had me so crippled I could barely finish two, and that was only if there was a deadline and paycheck attached to them. I didn’t enjoy the writing. The money didn’t entice me all that much. My main concern was to not allow my reputation to fall apart. I held it together just enough to keep myself on top of deadlines.
I tried to figure out what was wrong with me. I even considered that something might be physically wrong with me, as I always seemed to be tired. However, I realized this was a part of life. Everyone has slumps, and this was a long overdue one for me.
My life has been so happy and so much less stressful ever since I decided to go with my “choosing not to choose” lifestyle of freelancing and traveling whenever I can/want to. I used to have slumps like these all the time, but I had too many responsibilities, classes, work meetings, and Roth-IRA contributions to worry about to allow myself to embrace the slump. In a way, it was a blessing that my life was set up in a way that I could actually allow myself to be upset without exactly knowing why.
There was, however, one big change
I can trace the beginning of the slump to around the time a very exciting plan came crashing down. I had a very big move planned, and I couldn’t wait to tell all of you all about it, but before I could, the plans fell apart. My announcement would have looked like this:
I’M MOVING TO PUERTO RICO!
Nope, just kidding, stuck in the Midwest forever
This was not a quick thing. Pedro has been applying to schools with PhD programs for some time. I had been planning to move somewhere in the fall of 2013, but the where depended on which schools accepted him.
Then Pedro received a full ride, with a TAship that came with a stipend large enough to live on (very modestly) at the University of Puerto Rico. It seemed his home was calling him back. I got psyched, told all my closest friends, including some fellow travel bloggers, and even got in touch with Caribbean tourism contacts.
And then the University lost funding
What was once a livable wage with a full ride became a $1,500 per semester stipend. Pedro knew he could never live off that, nor work full time while going to school and teaching a class. We did the only thing that made any financial sense – we cancelled our move and renewed our lease in St. Louis, Missouri
This disappointment, paired with my intense writer’s block that accompanied my severe slump put me in a very delicate emotional state. I was constantly irritable, or despondent at best.
I would snap at the tiniest things. I actually remember yelling at Pedro about the weather. It went a little something like this:
“This summer has been a total waste. It’s not even sunny. What the fuck kind of summer has no sun? I am not even tan, and I tan so easily I get a new tan line every day if there is proper sunlight! This wasn’t supposed to matter! I was supposed to be moving to Puerto Rico and there would be sun and tanning ALL YEAR. But I DON’T live in Puerto Rico. I live in the Midwest. Born in the Midwest, spend my whole life in the Midwest, and I will DIE IN THE MIDWEST.”
I think we can all agree that I was being just the tiniest bit dramatic here. Especially because I left the Midwest and lived in Argentina for 2 years and since then have taken more trips in the past 2 years than most Midwesterners take in 10 years.
But you know what that rant did? It allowed me to admit that somehow, not moving to Puerto Rico had been chalked up as a personal failure in my mind.
I’m moving forward
I can’t say the slump is over or that my writer’s block has been cured, but it feels good to at least acknowledge it. I love my life, and it is a great one, but no life is safe from these periods of complacent, mild unhappiness.
I hope that all of you will forgive my sporadic postings. I made the decision not to write and post garbage. So if there is nothing good to post, there will be no posts. I am still traveling, though I have written about it much less. Another post about choosing to experience instead of document a moment is forthcoming. I hope you’ll stick with me.