Speaker’s Block

I love writing. Ever since I was a young girl, I’ve derived pleasure out of free writing and always thrived on written assignments, whether they were essays, scientific reports, creative stories, poems, reflections or responses, or personal narratives. I’ve journaled and blogged for much of my adult life, usually privately, but publicly on the Internet with my fitness blog in 2012 and 2013 and with my current autism/life blog that I began in February. I authored my memoir about my battle with and eventual recovery from anorexia while being a competitive distance in a span of just four months several years ago. Oftentimes, when I put pencil to paper (or more often fingers to keyboard), thoughts and ideas begin to flow faster than I can mechanically record them and more fluidly than they even feel in my mind. As has been the case since day one of my blog (and when I journal offline), the writing I do is therapeutic because the act of composing itself brings to light words that more clearly express how I’m feeling and what I’m thinking about that I’m largely unaware of or that least are partly obscured or unknown to me. For me, writing yields far more clarity than simply ruminating ever has. I understand my deeper or repressed thoughts, as well as the more topical tangle of confusing or stressful feelings, that surround any of the number of issues I face or life experiences in general. This not only cuts down on the angst of not being able to identify and make sense of what’s going on in my head or body, but it also brings me into an informed position, arming me with greater power to address the problems, seek appropriate guidance or help, and strategize coping mechanisms or ways to reframe the situation to improve the outcome in the future or at least my perspective on it.

Writing has been instrumental in the improvements in self-understanding, self-compassion, mood regulation, and overall comfort over the past year in particular. I deal with a lot of complicated emotions and mental and physical health conditions, so having a tool to better grapple with them, comprehend them, and rectify them—if possible—is exceedingly valuable. Especially in the wake of my late autism diagnosis and the pervasive PTSD post-violent-attack, I have a lot of unfamiliar and uncomfortable emotions and experiences to sift through and process. I’m so grateful that writing is a not only a self-expressive and healthy medium, but also one that almost invariably serves as a therapeutic healing tool. I write far better than I speak, and I have hardly anyone to talk to anyway, so writing often takes the prime spot as my go-to therapy, over a chat with a friend or even a session with my professional therapist. Additionally, many times by getting the jumble of ideas out of my head and onto the page, the tangled knot polluting my mental processes becomes more ironed out, opening brain space to focus on other responsibilities and thoughts and reducing the anxiety that results from considering the spinning garbled ball of thoughts when it remains enclosed on my head.

My job as a technical writer and editor for an educational company frequently requires me to research and then write authoritatively on a wide array of subjects, spanning disciplines such as nursing, chemistry, automotive technology, education, aviation, and construction. Certainly, some assignments trip me up and seem initially insurmountable, but most of the time, after I’ve adequately researched the topic, I find my written voice and crank out the requested work in an efficient manner.

With all this said, most of my best writing is organically composed. I simply sit down and let the words come out as they naturally do when the inspiration (or emotional need) strikes. I’m blessed to have a flexible work schedule, so if I have moments where I feel the urge to write (to understand myself, to release a pent-up emotion, to grieve, to feel something I’m confused by, etc.) I can do so. I rarely pre-plan a blog post or task myself to write something on a given day; instead, I write what and when I want to. This keeps the process enjoyable and productive and frankly makes the output more meaningful to me. Unless I’m writing for work or other publishing purposes, I don’t worry about my work being particularly polished, both in terms of grammar and syntax, but also in regards of the logical structure of the content I’ve produced; many times, my posts are just free streams of consciousness and as such, I don’t hold myself to any degree of scrutinized editing or revising normally demanded by an actual writing assignment.

That’s why I’m in a relatively foreign position right now. I’ve been selected to give a TEDx talk in a few weeks after my video application was approved. The event organizers want a fully composed script of my planned 18-minute talk, which I’m finding to be a bear of a challenge. Not only am inexperienced with giving talks (and communicating verbally in general!), but I’m finding scripting a talk to feel forced. My ideas are not flowing at all; it’s more like trying to stack one word upon the previous, if each word was represented by a crumbled brick so that stacking them results in a precariously balanced pile, ready to topple at any moment. Moreover, the stack seems aimless, reaching up to no defined site and extending laterally in no purposeful design. The crumbliness of each brick makes the aesthetics of the functionless structure also leaves plenty to be desired. (Some writing, like poetry, is so beautiful that even if it doesn’t convey anything markedly profound, its artistic quality is so lovely that its merit is fully established.)

My draft is due in a couple days and so far I am far below the slated word count and as I mentioned, what I do have, I hate. I don’t feel connected to it and I don’t feel proud of it. I’m hoping that inspiration catches up to me soon and gives me the wheels to get out “ideas worth sharing.” As of right now, I’m confident these are words (not even ideas) worth discarding.

2 Comments

  1. I can’t wait to hear your TedX talk! Congrats on being selected! I’m sure whatever you come up with will be informative, heartfelt, and have a couple jokes!

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