Lett's Set A Spell

Recovering from burnout features writing as therapy
Apr. 21, 2013 @ 12:00 PM

What transpires when a writer can no longer write? 

This is what happened to me in January. While I have always looked forward to the post-holiday revitalization to reignite my creative juices and recharge my body, mind and spirit, this year the relief did not come. Starting 2013 with my usual optimism about taking time to write, I lacked the energy and enthusiasm to create.

In an email to my good friend Jane Norton, I noted: “I have nothing to say.” She responded with: “Then start there.” Jane encouraged me to be honest with my readers and reveal that I was sick and struggling, but I simply could not bare my soul. 

AlexSandra the Queen of Reinvention had recently spoken to dozens of groups about drawing upon passion and purpose to follow one’s dreams. She offered stories and strategies for shifting to a higher level of living. Now I wondered what is the meaning of my life, what is my mission?

AlexSandra the Great Promoter had successfully finished offering many workshops on how people and businesses could market their products and services to audiences in 2012. Now, how could I muster the drive to implement the tactics to boost my own business?  

TO BE HONEST, I was tired of being tired. I longed to feel passionate about my life and Work again. I always capitalize Work because for me it is my divine purpose and my sacred mission.

While focusing on finding answers for my overwhelming fatigue, I realized that it was more than chronic pain from the car accident. I discovered that I was experiencing burnout … defined as a state in which an individual has feelings of exhaustion often combined with doubts about self-worth in terms of personal and/or professional talents. 

Without energy and imagination, what difference could I make in the world?

While I have always needed writing as a way of seeking answers for who I am, who other people are, what they say and why they act a certain way, I also want to understand human beings and tell their stories. 

I felt discouraged and defeated because if I could not write, if I couldn’t create, if I could not spin stories, what was I good for?

SEEKING ANSWERS for my writer’s block, I started rereading “The Artist’s Way, A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity,” written by Julia Cameron with Mark Bryan, and published in 1992. Believing that creative expression is the natural direction of life, the authors lead readers through a comprehensive 12-week program to recover their creativity from a variety of blocks, including limiting beliefs, fear, self-sabotage, guilt, addictions and jealousy. 

The first step in the program is to write by long hand three pages every morning — called “morning pages” — because this exercise allows the participant to dump junk out of the mind and to release trivia that is bogging down the brain. It is important not to judge the material no matter how bad because this is not literature but therapy!

This technique opens up possibilities for exciting ideas and eventually makes writing habitual. 

Writing morning pages can inspire anyone in any avocation or vocation — whether a homemaker or business executive, an artist or attorney — to become more creative and gain clarity.

In “The Artist’s Way,” Julia Cameron states: “These daily morning meanderings are not meant to be art. Or even writing. I stress that point to reassure non-writers working with this book. Writing is simply one of the tools.” 

After three weeks I began to write prose easily again, however, I have not been ready to publish any of my challenges related to health and creativity until now.

So writing the morning pages is one of my successful strategies for breaking through blockages to stifled creativity. It is a critical component in inspiring my Work and healing my burnout, therefore improving my health and enhancing my life. Stay tuned for more ideas to promote aliveness in future columns.  

AlexSandra Lett is a professional speaker and the author of “Natural Living, From Stress to Rest;” “A Timeless Place, Lett’s Set a Spell at the Country Store;” “Timeless Moons, Seasons of the Fields and Matters of the Heart;” “Timeless Recipes and Remedies, Country Cooking, Customs, and Cures;” and “Coming Home to my Country Heart, Timeless Reflections about Work, Family, Health, and Spirit.” Lett can be reached at (919) 258-9299 or LettsSetaSpell@aol.com.