The Block

Erika Petrelli
Erika Petrelli

Writer’s block is a horrible thing.  Many a Monday-into-Tuesday I stare at the computer screen without an inkling of an idea of what to write for my weekly blog.  I stare at a blank page, desperately searching the deepest vaults of my brain, searching for anything remotely interesting to say, while that blank page taunts me menacingly with its glaring… blankness.    On those days I become convinced that the gig is up—that my time of pretending to be a “blogger” is done, that I shouldn’t have thought I could keep this up, anyway.   I mean, who am I after all?  It’s all quite depressing, really.

And then something sparks.    Sometimes it starts as the tiniest flicker of far off light; sometimes it hits me like lightning.  A memory, something funny the kids do, a story from work, a gripping bit of breaking news… and within that spark I find the beginning.  And once I find the beginning I usually get ahold of the thread that will carry me through to the end.    Every week this happens, yet every week before the spark comes I doubt its very existence.

It’s the “I can’t do it!” cycle that grips so many of us at the start of something—when we are at the start of a project, at the eve of the deadline, at the edge of the cliff.   Our self-doubt can be crippling just before we cross over that line; just before we begin.  I don’t know why it continues to happen to me—each and every time I work myself up into a state of “I’m A Total Idiot,” yet each and every time I remember that the spark will come.   You’d think by now I’d be able to stop the fear and the doubt.    But no.   In this way I am actually an idiot.   Because the insecurity is continuously stronger than the belief.  The loudest and most persuasive voice in my brain is inevitably the one yelling at me that I can’t, rather than the one whispering to me that I probably actually can.

Does this happen to you?   Do you get the new job and then worry that you’ll be discovered a fraud?   Do you buy the sassy new outfit and then spend the entire day convinced people are judging your choice?  Do you have to spend minutes (or hours) working up the courage to pick up the phone for a call you really wish to make?   Do you sign up for a class and then stay home because you’re convinced you’ll be the oldest one there?

My mom and step dad, in their late 60s and early 70s, are walking in Indianapolis’ legendary “mini-marathon” this weekend—the largest half marathon in the country.  They’ve done it several years in a row now, and train for months leading up to the event.     At their age it would be easy to say that a half marathon is not “for them”; or that recent aches and ailments make it an impossible task to accomplish.   But yet they are doing it anyway.

So, I’ll be there on the sidelines as their loudest cheerleader, inspired by their beautiful reminder that “I can’t” is really an invented stopping point—a voice in our brain, not an absolute truth.

What “I can’t do it” voice inside your head can you squelch today, but just going ahead and doing it anyway?  


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Erika Petrelli

By Erika Petrelli

Erika Petrelli is the Senior Vice President of Leadership Development (and self-declared Minister of Mischief) for The Leadership Program, a New York City-based organization. With a Masters degree in Secondary Education, Erika has been in the field of teaching and training for decades, and has been with The Leadership Program since 1999. There she has the opportunity to nurture the individual leadership spirit in both students and adults across the country, through training, coaching, keynotes, and writing. The legacy Erika strives daily to create is to be the runway upon which others take flight. If you enjoy these blogs, you should check out her interactive journal, On Wings & Whimsy: Finding the Extraordinary Within the Ordinary, now available for sale on Amazon. While her work takes her all around the country, Erika calls Indiana home.