When Your Brain is Constipated

My head is full.

Ideas for posts. Characters. Recipes my two year old might eat.

The To Do List that never ends.

The problem is the writing thoughts are stuck, a horrible case of brain constipation with no sign of release.

Last summer, I dreamed of the coming “free time” this fall would bring me with my children both attending a Mother’s/Parent’s Day Out program.

I envisioned writing.

I hoped to do NaNoWriMo.

I pictured a perfect house, completely organized by October.

You can stop laughing any time.

Like the naive new parent who had no idea her newborn wouldn’t sleep unless being held (uh, me), I had no concept of how quickly three and half hours passes by when my children aren’t around.

I do now.

And I want to cry.

I’m pretty sure it hormones. And worry about my friend. And sleep deprivation. And dashed expectations. And skipping too many Zumba classes to get stuff done while the kids are away. And not showering enough.

But mostly, it’s when I try to write, everything churned onto the screen is flat with a bad aftertaste – sort of like a can of soda pop left sitting out too long.

Maybe my inner voice is just too loud.

I don’t know.

I just miss writing. Real writing. The feeling that washes over me when the words I type feel “right”. When my fingers clack away and I don’t even have to think about what I’m doing. When I’m in The Zone.

It’s been a month since I’ve hit The Zone.

My 2 year old has the funniest thinking expressions.

Lil Diva's face pretty much sums up my frustrations with writing. She feels the same about crayon selection.

A part of me wonders if it will ever come back.

I keep writing, waiting for the magic. I know if I don’t at least try, it can’t return.

Embracing the irony it will probably be in the form of writing diarrhea….

Meanwhile, my children love to say things and all I have to do is transcribe it.

Plus I still have my camera to express what I cannot find the words to say.

What do you do when the words don’t feel “right”?


About Kelly K @ Dances with Chaos

Kelly K has learned the five steps to surviving of motherhood: 1) Don't get mad. Grab your camera. 2) Take a photograph. 3) Blog about it. 4) Laugh. 5) Repeat. She shares these tales at Dances with Chaos in order to preserve what tiny amount of sanity remains. You can also find her on her sister blog, Writing with Chaos (www.writingwithchaos.com) sharing memoir and engaging in her true love: fiction writing. It's cheaper than therapy.
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25 Responses to When Your Brain is Constipated

  1. I won’t bore you with the “THIS IS MY STORY TOO” details; but I know exactly what you mean.

    In every way. Except my kids are in school twice as long and there STILL isn’t time to get in the zone once everything else is done.

    I’m not laughing. I’m sending hugs. And smiles.

    Yep. I am.

  2. Annie says:

    This rings so true for me!! It’s good to know I’m not alone with the brain constipation and lack of time. I’m constantly trying to figure out how to get more done but never find a great solution. This morning Taz was in preschool and I envisioned digging out of the pit at home, but I also had a dermatology appointment. Alas, all I did was the appointment and getting gas for the van. Poof! Time to pick up the kid. ARGH.

    • I think it is the grand plans of all the things we will do, followed by the kick of reality that only a tiny portion of it can be achieved that gives me this constant sensation of never making progress.

      The time alone goes so quickly, but I know one day I will miss the days when they were here.

      If I just had the clone I’d ordered to do the grunt work, I could have the best of both worlds…

  3. Annie says:

    PS. Have you noticed I haven’t posted a blog in about two weeks? Uh…yeah. Drowning here! 🙂

  4. John says:

    My advice here is the same that I’d give to anyone who was actually constipated . . . don’t force it. Because bad shit happens when you do (sorry for the cuss word . . . but, um, the pun was too good to pass…and I did it again…)

    When I have trouble getting the words flowing (the actual constipation isn’t really an issue with me, which becomes apparent as soon as you see my diet), I actually start reading more. My biggest fear is to turn writing into a chore, so that I tell myself that I need to write, at which point it loses its magic.

    I read other blogs, comment at other blogs – sometimes, I comment wordily because, well, I enjoy this writing and maybe if I do this, I’ll find (anagram of this) easier.

    Does that make any sense?

    And what does it say that poop analogies come easily to parents?

    • John, I knew I could count on you to go for the puns. 🙂

      None of the “how to be a parent” books cover how from the moment you give birth, your life will be all about your child’s excretory functions.

      I’m hoping the easy analogies go away once both are potty trained.

      God, I hope so.

      You are totally correct about the reading. Blogs are typically the only thing I have time to read, and lately I haven’t even had time for many of those. The last books I read were the Hunger Games last August when I fled to Canada and had my first non-kid-toting plane ride in over four years.

      I’m working to remedy this. I have ordered the new Kindle Touch, thought the four week waiting period is making me consider the Nook Touch to serve my need for instant gratification.


      And uh.. yeah.. I don’t know anything about writing wordy comments. I have blog posts shorter than many. Sadly, it also hinders my commenting because if I’m on a mobile device, I just get mad trying to type.

      Thank you again, for all the comments and recipes you’ve given me. You rock.

  5. Katie says:

    I feel like that at work sometimes. Particularly if I’m working on a really confusing issue that I’m not quite sure how to organize or an argument that I’m not passionate about or just don’t really believe that much. I can force myself to write it eventually, but it sometimes takes coming up against a hard and fast deadline (difficult for you to recreate, I know). Sometimes I put it aside for a day or two or three, and then go back to it with (hopefully) a fresh point of view. Or, best is getting someone else to review and give me comments and criticism. A fresh eye can do wonders for my writing.

    • Deadlines drive me too.

      I try self-imposing ones, but really, I need a true deadline.

      I have company coming for Thanksgiving, so I have to do some house stuff so the guest room (Lil Diva’s room) is habitable.

      I also need to read more.

      Fresh eyes is also a good idea. I haven’t reached out to my writing friends for help in a while. Many are busy with NaNoWriMo.

      Most posts I start and save for later, never get touched again.

  6. The zone will come back, but it might not always be consistent.

  7. I know all too well how you feel. It’s overwhelming and the more overwhelmed you feel, the more overwhelmed you get. It’s a nasty cycle.

    • You are so right.

      Usually pushing through helps me finally break the cycle.

      I know being in the habit helps too. Somewhere in my traveling months ago, the habit was broken and I’ve been struggling ever since to get back to it.

      I just saw your note about publishing (I’m in awe, by the way of all you’ve written). If you see this please email me because there’s another site that might interest you for self-publishing I heard about recently.

      I just might forget to tell you. That whole Mommy Brain thing.

  8. Sarcasm Goddess says:

    I hate it when the words don’t feel right. I try to keep writing anyway but I never go back and read it cuz it will just make me depressed. I think sometimes we have to force out the crap for the good stuff to flow again. But it’s not easy and incredibly frustrating. Good luck!

    • I know if I don’t write at all, the block will stay.

      But writing often frustrates me.

      I’m going to try to read more. That used to help back in the days when I had time to write my novel.

      And I’ll still plug away here, because at least my children are still funny.

  9. Jackie says:

    Same here… lots of idea but really it’s a lack of time to get them out on the screen. And I don’t want to just write “crap” anymore so I make notes and wait for a bit of free time to write.

  10. Trish Loye Elliott says:

    I do get what you’re saying. Just hang onto the thought that it’s temporary. Sleep and time for yourself (to Zumba, read, or whatever) are essential no matter how much time u have to write. Don’t worry. You’ll get the zone back and you’ll rock it. Just try to take care of yourself too and always keep writing.

    • I know what you’re saying makes sense.

      I just have so much to do, organizing wise, I feel like I’ll never just have time to kick back and write, which was the one thing I was looking forward to with the kids being busy.

      Of course, lately when I do have time to write, my brain shuts down. It is most annoying.

      Thank you for the encouragement!

  11. Well you rocked this post. Seriously. Great writing, Kel.

    And it’ll come back. The creative part of us goes dormant when we have a lot going on.


  12. I think I just lost my comment. Jumped off the page too quickly.

    This piece is great, Kel. For someone who’s not in the zone (and I totally get that), you can sure but some great words and thoughts together.

    It’ll come. Our creative self goes dormant when we’re exhausted and struggling with “stuff”; it’s self-preservation, I believe. But it’s there. It’s still there. And, it’ll pass.


  13. I’m sorry you (and Lil Diva) are stressed. Maybe if you try wearing her antlers?

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