When your brain gets in the way, write about blackberries

Today, I am draped in an orange and purple blanket from India.

I lugged it back with me in a green and black backpack on overnight bus rides, through the streets of Shimla and Dehli, and finally home.

This blanket cloaks me in memory – I went to India! I was brave! I lived in the world!

Next to my computer, a dozen blackberries wait to be devoured. I washed them in a bowl full of holes, blue with purple streaks. A wedding gift.

Then there’s my iced coffee — cold brew with ice cubes and half and half in a purple glass with silver sparkles from Rome. I remember the first time I drank cold brew coffee, in a coffee shop in Denver called Fluid on 19th and Pennsylvania St., near my one bedroom apartment with a black and white tiled kitchen.

I mention these items because they are real, tangible, concrete. They help me anchor myself in the world, in my apartment, instead of living in my overworked brain. The brain that says “Who are you to write? No one cares about your orange blanket or your purple glass. Get to the point.”

Our brains find so many ways to keep us from using our voices.

We want to be right. We want people to like us. We want our writing to be perfect as soon as it dribbles onto the page.

We’re so intent on perfection that we decide we’d rather do something else. Like scrape grime off of last night’s dishes, or watch Netflix, or lay on the couch with the dog, hiding in her soft fur.

Coming back to the concrete, tangible details helps.

It anchors you as a writer to this real world, the world that exists outside of your fear, outside of your need to be right and to be liked and to be the best writer in the world.

The blackberries don’t care.

They’ll taste tangy and sour and sweet regardless of what your brain does. The blankets and the floor under your feet will stay there, unbudging, as you wrestle with questions of your own worthiness and likability.

When you get stuck in your brain, write about this precious, fleeting moment.Click To Tweet

This is what story does — it grounds us in this world.

It reminds us that we are pulsing, breathing humans living on this glorious, gory, gorgeous earth.

The next time you feel the pull inside, hear the voice in your ear, asking you, begging you to write, heed the call.

Sit in your chair. Wrap yourself in your favorite blanket. Pour yourself a cup of coffee or tea.

Then write into the present moment.

Honor and bless what you see around you, what you hear, what you smell.

Writing will remind you that you are alive. It will help you look at your surroundings and see the beauty in the things that exist all around you, all the time.

Eat your blackberries. Sip your coffee. Feel the ground under your feet, supporting you even though you haven’t asked for it, haven’t even noticed it.

Write into your life.

This moment is here to be savored.

  • Karen Hume

    Hi Daniela,
    I’ve been reading your posts for the past fifteen months and have watched you embrace various ventures then decide they weren’t quite right for you. I learned a lot about creating a niche for my blog by reading some of the posts you wrote about that process. I’ve always enjoyed your most heartfelt and authentic posts. Therefore I enjoyed this one, and the last one you wrote about your spirit women. Just want to say thanks, and that I think you’re now on the right track. These posts are wonderful and they are helpful.

    • Daniela Uslan

      Karen, thank you for witnessing me as I’ve experienced twists and turns in my blog. I am so glad that you feel like I’m on the right track. I also feel like my posts have taken a deeper, more honest turn, and it makes me happy that they are still helpful to you! Thanks for staying with me on my blogging journey. That means a lot.

  • This is such a wonderfully written post and great advice, too! Whenever I get stuck writing, I focus on the five senses and try to switch up my perception, just describing and observing instead of trying to push for something “useful”.
    And just because you mentioned the whole “getting to the point” thing… I actually enjoy reading blog posts that don’t give me concrete tips or rules to follow. Your post reads like a short story or eloquent diary entry and I absolutely love the simplicity of it!

    • Daniela Uslan

      Thank you so much Evelyne! I’m glad you loved the post and that you related to the process I shared. I like how you put it – observing rather than trying to be “useful.” Sometimes just reflecting on the world around us is enough!

      • We’re all thinking too much anyway 😉 Sometimes it’s a nice change to just observe instead.

  • Daniela Uslan

    I totally agree, Anne! I’m glad you resonated with the post!