When You Can’t Create

Sometimes in life it isn’t blocks or procrastination or fear of success that keeps you from your creative work. Sometimes the world intervenes and because you are physically unable, or charged with the care of someone else, or trapped in an office with a terrifying deadline, you just can’t do it.

That’s where I am right now – I’ve fractured my right shoulder and until a couple of days ago was in too much pain and too out of it to do even what I am doing now, which is typing this slowly with just my left hand. And not being able to write is almost harder for me than not being able to pull a shirt over my head or have to ask someone else to cut up my Thanksgiving turkey. Not being able to write is like not being able to breathe.

Perhaps the hardest thing in these situations is being kind to yourself about your inability to perform. I find myself giving myself these little lectures about people in far worse situations who, for instance, scratch philosophical tomes into the stone walls of their prison cells with a sharpened spoon. It’s hard to listen to the doctors who say – rest, medication, and in time, physical therapy. I know that in two months I’ll be mostly back to normal, able to work again, write again, think clearly.

And in the meantime, I’ll have to settle for being a reader more than a writer, to try and think some projects through, and just do a little left-handed typing when I have the energy and patience. I get to spend some time talking to my esteemed collaborators – all of whom have wonderful ideas. I get to watch daytime TV and understand America a little better. And I get a chance to practice being a little kinder to myself when I simply can’t write.

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