When writing stops in turmoil

Up to last Sunday, I always found that my writer’s block came from within me, from a fear of not being able to write or writing properly or writing wrong or the wrong thing or the constant interruptions of everyday life that jolts me out of the writing routine, but now I add another one – fear of losing a loved one – from something that happens externally that cannot be controlled.

I heard that my dad, who has cancer, was really unwell and in pain for over a week. My mother defied his request not to tell ‘the children’ (the youngest of us is thirty-six) what was happening to him and called us when the worry became too much to bear on her own. What made the situation worse was that they live in another country and between Skype and texts we found out how serious everything had become.

By Thursday, ten days after the problem started, my dad was admitted to hospital and eventually, the news came that we wanted to hear; he was conscious, drinking and could eat by Friday, and now he’s coming home today. He may not be the same again or this was just a blip.

Over the last week, I was in shock at the possibility of losing him and I felt paralysed, could not think about anything except the routine of life and within that routine, writing did not feature. I couldn’t face conjuring up a scene in my mind or placing the next words down on the screen because all I could do was wait for the next text from my mother, after a visit to a doctor or after visiting hours in the hospital.

The fears dropped bit by bit with every sliver of good news that came in over the weekend. Until, at last, this morning, I knew I was ready and started writing again.

So writer’s block for the most part is within my control, when I conquer my own inner fears, the so-called inner critic, I can use basic ways of getting the writing going again e.g. planning small tasks, switching off doubt or writing out the problem, but getting writer’s block when you are worried sick for another person, I’m going to have to figure out how to move beyond that one because it will probably happen again.


6 thoughts on “When writing stops in turmoil

  1. So sorry to hear about your dad, but thank goodness he’s back home again. When we have pain in our lives, it is often a time we need to stop, contemplate and allow ourselves the space to get through it. That often means in our writing too. Don’t feel guilty about having to take that break, you’ll know when you’re reading to write again (just as you did).


    • Thanks for your kind words. Feeling relieved and glad to have my mind free to write again. I did feel guilty for not writing and now I wonder if I should have pushed through the numbness and, perhaps, not working on the novel, tried to write about the situation. Easy for me to say today, I suppose. Something to think about if/when it happens again. Ah well, keep going…


  2. I’m sorry to hear about your dad 😦 Has he tried oxygen therapy? I’m not sure what country he’s in, but RSA hospitals provide oxygen therapy, which is said to kill cancer cells without making you feel sick like chemo does. My thoughts are with you and my hopes are that your dad will be one of the miracle cases where the doctors wonder where the heck the cancer vanished to.

    I agree with the comment about not feeling guilty – you’re human too, just like the rest of us, so there will be times when life puts a grinding halt to writing. It’s just the way it is and nothing to feel bad about. Try to think of writing as a way of dealing with the worry in a creative way rather than something the worry is blocking. I find that helps me when stress kicks in.


      • I’m sorry to hear he has to wait for treatment 😦 In the meantime, if he wants, he can oxygenate his body easily by doing things like drinking lots of water, eating dark green veggies like cabbage and so on. I have quite a bit of info on self-oxygenating your body (and how it works) if you want me to email it to you?


      • Thanks for your comment and offer. My mum takes care of the nutrition aspect and they have tried numerous things to get as far as possible, as any person would do. Exactly like the reason I wrote this post, my stomach is torn to bits writing about my dad and even replying to this comment I find hard because I feel thrust back to the last few weeks. So please, I think I will restrict my replies to things that block us in our writing even though I used the example of my dad.
        I think replying to you has highlighted that at some point I am going to have to attempt to write about him and how I feel about what’s happening and where it’s all going to. I will stop now because I don’t think I can talk about this anymore. L.


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