Road-Blocks

One thing that I have learned from having a ton of hobbies, is that no matter how much you like something, you can always hit a wall.

I am fully expecting to run into obstacles on the road trip – I have had plenty of bumps in the road on my international travels. That is why I made sure to get roadside coverage on my car insurance, I am keeping my expectations low, and I have prepared those in my life that I don’t actually know exactly when I will be back. Right now, the biggest obstacle to my plans is the West Hills Ford dealer not knowing what they’re doing and keeping my van for over a month. Having originally planned to leave town on the 13th/14th of this month, I am already a week and a half late without much hope for leaving in the next few days. If I am lucky, I will leave on this coming Friday. So I am finding ways to fill my time breaking down walls and road-blocks to my other interests.

Then the brain starts to get in the way.

There are several projects that I have going right now from Unity game designs, design projects on OnShape that need adjusting before I can 3D print them, marketing and social media work to do for my graphics company Green Lion Graphics, and a never ending stream of story ideas that need to be made into publishable works.

Writer’s block in particular is a well known example of an inexplicable mental wall that prevents us from doing the very thing that we are passionate about. There are few popular authors who have not written about writer’s block or answered questions about it in interviews. The story comes, sometimes in bits and pieces, other times it comes as a complete concept from start to finish just waiting to be written; and then the brain starts to get in the way. The outline is there and the details won’t form, or there is a clear picture of what the story is and the words just won’t come together to bring the ideas into reality. A picture can tell a thousand words; but those words have to be organized to communicate a story.

Last month, I had a sudden release from near constant writer’s block and within a week I wrote the first draft of my book Mutany. You can access links to Mutany and my other works on my Author Page. I was able to finish the book and get the copyright within a couple of days of finishing that first draft and then easily publish on Amazon.

Amazon’s publishing tools make it incredibly simple to put books up on Kindle, create covers, build a paperback edition, assign an ISBN, and market your book all without spending a dime. Amazon takes a cut of the profits; but they print the books for you so that anyone really can become a published author. I have so far published two works of fiction, a lucid dreaming handbook, and two dream notebooks to help promote lucid dreaming. The hardest part every time has been putting my nose to the grindstone, my fingers to the keyboard, and getting the first draft done. The first draft of my original work of fiction ‘Oneironaut Drifting’ took around four years, and was finally finished while I was sitting at the beach on an island in Thailand. I tried to publish that book the traditional way – emailing publishing companies and sending in copies of the first chapter, first 30 pages, first whatever it was that they were asking for – for over a year before I decided to self-publish on Amazon.

The second book that I have planned that is based in San Donno will be ‘Uprising’.

Since then, my writing has improved; but my procrastination is still strong. I write outlines to stories, I write first chapters, I write character descriptions. Unfortunately, all of this writing rarely contributes to the same project. I tend to have in the neighborhood of 20 stories in rotation at any given time that I am constantly deciding whether or not to keep working on or let them fall to the side and get forgotten.

I still have several projects in the works; but most recently I was so inspired by the way that Mutiny came about so quickly that I am continuing to work on the story of what is happening in San Donno (the fictional town in which the story is based). The second book that I have planned that is based in San Donno will be ‘Uprising’. Both works are ironically on the subject of mental illness – Dissociative Identity Disorder and Autism. With May being national Mental Health Awareness month, it is only fitting that my first novella dealing with mental illness was published the last day of April and the second novella is likely going to be ready to publish the first week of June. Somehow I managed to skip over the entire month with surgical precision.

Anyway, this is what I have been pushing myself to work on while I wait for my van to be ready. I have been breaking down the wall, bypassing the road-block. I find that the best way to get a lot of writing done is to alternate between pushing words out and reading a good book. Both of which have been frustrations for me this year; so no matter which one I did more of i would still feel that I accomplished something.

I set a goal for myself at the beginning of each year to read at least ten books. Most years I come in pretty close; and I give myself a break if the books are over 300 pages. It is really more of a vague page number goal than a book number goal. But Goodreads measures in terms of books; so that is how I set my goals. This year, I started out with ‘Ready Player Two’ – my Christmas gift to myself. I absolutely loved the first book {let’s just not talk about the movie} and I am really enjoying the second… still. In May. At first, it was the slowness of the book that kept me from plowing through it. I would say it took about 75 pages before it got to where I would have started the story. I really didn’t need to hear THAT much about the characters immense angst. But after those first few chapters, the story took off and really found its pace to match the first book. I am one good session away from the end now; but it definitely should not have taken 5 months to get this far.

We have to reset before we can push forward.

Unfortunately, life gets in the way. This year, the universe hasn’t pulled any punches and I have been feeling the impact of that. My reading, my writing, my design work have all been set on the back burner while I try to remain sane. But can we really be sane and contribute to society if we aren’t working on self-growth and our passions?

I am just going to go ahead and answer that one : No. We cant.

You don’t win a race by focusing on winning a race. You win a race by practicing, working out, and taking out the competition. I mean that is what I would have to do. The point is that you have to act if you expect results and wanting to be a sane happy person isn’t going to do the trick. By exploring our passions and working on our personal goals we improve our mental health and increase our likelihood of success in our efforts. It doesn’t matter what it is you are trying to do. Even meditation requires action. To meditate in modern society you can’t just tell yourself that you are going to meditate. You have to set aside time. Sit in a comfortable position. And put effort into clearing the mind.

Through focus and dedication to the goal of being an author, I spent several hours this weekend writing ‘Uprising’. With a little luck, I might even be able to publish before the end of May in time for Mental Health Awareness month.

Anyone whose projects aren’t coming together the way that you thought they would or you are coming up on a personal deadline, don’t be afraid to bounce around. If you are trying to write, have a book to read. If you are planning a trip or working on updating your rig, take breaks to go on a walk or smoke a bowl. It is amazing how easily our incredible minds get overwhelmed and we have to reset before we can push forward.

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