Towards the end of last year, I decided to learn how to ice skate. It's a skill I've always wanted to learn, but I haven't lived close enough to a permanent ice rink until recently. For context: I am forty-four, overweight, and unfit. I knew learning wouldn't be easy, but I'll admit that being in the beginner group for the third time isn't doing much for my self-esteem!
The thing is, I know what my biggest problem is. As my group instructor said yesterday morning, 'your technique is there, but you lack confidence.' In other words, I'm afraid.
"Your technique is there, but you lack confidence."
Blocks in sports are, unfortunately, common. Even professional athletes at the highest level can get blocked, even if it's a skill they've performed hundreds of times. In theory, blocks can be overcome. The question is, how? Is it a case of telling myself I can do it? Of practising over and over until I gain confidence? I'm sure it will be a combination of things. Maybe I'll be in the beginner group three more times before moving to level 2. Ultimately, what matters is that I keep trying.
Ultimately, what matters is that I keep trying.
Blocks don't just exist in sports. Writers experience blocks too. Sometimes they last for days, sometimes weeks, sometimes months. Generally—at least for me—I get them because I lose confidence in my ability to tell a compelling story. Sometimes I lose confidence in a specific story. My inner critic tells me I'm not good enough, or the story isn't good enough, and I freeze up. It becomes impossible to write, even with looming deadlines.
I wish there was a simple remedy. But, as with my fear of falling and hurting myself, my fear of letting my readers down is very real and very crippling (at times). I have two options: take a break, or push through the block. One option is kinder. The other is necessary when I have a deadline looming. So, today, I'll be attempting to push through my writing block. On Wednesday, I'll be on the ice, trying to push through my skating block. I can finish my current WIP. I can get out of level 1 in ice skating. I can do this.
As if writing and ice skating weren't already hard enough, I've also decided to start learning Japanese this year. It's another thing I've wanted to do for a long time. すし anyone?