Jan 31 / Anna Adami

Why Write? A Compass for Times of Block

Words have always been how I make sense of myself and the world. 

My parents say I was a colicky baby, then an inordinate toddler. I was stubborn, hyper, and emotionally unregulated. But when I learned to read, my mom swears I changed. "You became an angel," she says.

Words and stories both stimulated and calmed me. 

It is no wonder I've followed them since -- through boredom and into imagination, heartbreak into solace, uncertainty into Self. 

There are times, though, when now, as a working writer, I get bogged down by the pressures of what being a writer means. I get burnt out by squeezing writing into the hours between day jobs. I don't touch my book project for months and wonder who I'm kidding, imposter syndrome looming large and loud. 

There are times of depression in which even words fail to inspire me. And times of anxiety in which my nervous system is too focused on survival to access creativity. 

There is the confusion and distraction of the publishing industry. The labor of not just writing, but also learning how to birth the writing into the world. Submissions, lit mags, agents, querying, overwhelm. 

The unseemly vulnerability of being seen. 

I have a compass for these times. To lead me back to myself. It is a simple question, its answer scribbled onto a paper and tacked to my studio wall. 

Why do you write? 

And like a dinner bell, it calls me home to what nourishes me. 

The joy of clarifying that which I don't yet understand. 

The solace of dropping inward; listening to solitude's wisdom.

The thrill of imagination. 

The music of language. 

Honoring the worthy. 

Connecting the disparate. 

Casting light into the shadows. 

Writing sensitizes my attention to the spiritual. 

With this reminder, my breath softens. I can return to the page or feed my spirit in other ways. With rest or reset, a walk in the woods or plunge in the water, unrushed time with family or friends. I can restore myself without guilt, knowing the writing life is just a part of the life-life, neither complete without the other. 

A pause may change my productivity, but it will not change my why. 

And my why is what really matters. 


Why do you write?

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