writer’s block

Waiting on the Mystery

“Mystery,” a song on the new Sara Groves record, speaks to her recent bout with anxiety, depression and writer’s block – the longest she had ever experienced.

On the director’s cut of this striking album (“Invisible Empires,” currently downloadable from her website), she shares some candid commentary about the frustrating season she endured. And she credits her husband Troy for convincing her of the need to write through it.

“You need to write from where you are now,” she recounts him saying when she expressed her desire not to write from a negative place. “You can’t change where you are and then start writing,” he continued. “You’re not going to get out of this until you start writing again.”

And so she did:

…My body’s tired
From trying to bring you here.
And my brow is furrowed
Trying to see things clear.

So I’ll turn my back to the black
And fall
And wait for the mystery
To rise up and meet me…

She recalls bursting into tears after writing these words, as they expressed so completely what she truly believed, yet they came unexpectedly and without full volition.

I’m a huge fan of Groves’ work. It’s simple and honest and beautiful, and it always points to the God she fervently serves.

This song, in particular, resonates with me in a way few songs do.

I suppose that’s because I’ve been through similar dark periods, and I can’t always figure out where they come from or how to move beyond them.

Friends and family can help. Faith can help. Music can help.

Sometimes, though, nothing at all seems to help, besides waiting for that “mystery” to reach in and lift the clouds. It always does.

It’s nice to know I’m not alone.

Thanks, Sara. You too, Troy.

Read the complete lyrics.

Plodding Through a Cranker-Friendly World

Over the course of my 20-plus years practicing PR, I’ve observed two primary classes of professional writers: those who crank and those who plod.

I fit squarely into the latter camp. And it can be a real bitch.

Let me explain the distinction.

“Crankers” turn out quick, passable copy in a smooth and efficient manner. They ease into any assignment and can write seemingly on cue. I’m insanely jealous of these individuals.

“Plodders,” on the other hand, obsess. Obsessively. And we daydream. And trudge through even the simplest of projects. Some of us may even concoct some sort of ridiculous ritual or try connecting to an imaginary muse to unleash inherent writing talent.

Make no mistake, both writers get the job done. But the crankers do it with aplomb (and dignity), while the plodders finish said task in a puddle of sweat, tears, sometimes blood.

And the reality is, we’re living in an increasingly cranker-friendly world, where speed trumps just about everything else (including attention to detail and nuance).

So what’s an old-line plodder to do – besides beat his weary head against his desk? Although I haven’t completely decided whether crankers are born or made, I do know that I’ve failed in my ongoing attempts to morph into a fully-functioning one.

Hence I continue to plod. One. Labored. Word. At. A. Time.