There are days when I find myself wordless, when I stare at the blinking cursor on the blank screen and freeze. 

It’s not that I have nothing to say. I’ve come to realise that this happens when there are things I can’t say.When the things I really want to put into writing are too deep-dark-secret to be shared with the world. 

This “dishonesty” has put me through a positive feedback loop of self-denial, and even more secrets. 

But how does one write about trauma, without reliving it and the emotions involved? How do I write about the bad things, without sounding like a complainer? 

In 12 Rules for Life, which I’m still plodding through, Jordan Peterson writes about walking the line between Order and Chaos. 

I suppose this same balance has to be found with everything, even in the art of writing. 

The key is being able to harness the chaos of creativity, then applying order to the raw piece of work. 

Too often, I start with order. When it comes to client work, it’s a more efficient way to do things. 

Here are the lines, now colour them in. There’s more structure, fewer variables. Less time wasted. 

Now that I’m attempting other sorts of work, it’s time to embrace Chaos. 

To say, with some level of fear but zero hesitation, “Hello Chaos, my old friend.” 


“Version One is better than Version None,” a friend said to me last night. This friend has been a source of practical, creative inspiration since we first met. 

I was telling him about all the unfinished pieces of writing I had lying around. 

Back when I was taking trumpet classes, I had an issue with jazz. While I had that clean, classical sound down pat, free-play jazz was difficult for me. 

“You need to stop being afraid of making mistakes,” my teacher said. 

If you don’t try, you won’t know. Fail early, fail fast. These mottoes are easy to understand on a theoretical level but there’s a biochemical response to failure that happens in the body. 

Left unmanaged, failing once increases your chances for future failure

Could it be possible though, that failure is something perceived? 

Could our failures possibly be reframed so that while we understand that we have failed, our brains don’t? 

Thus, bypassing the neurochemical pathways that lead to the all too familiar feelings of dejectedness, self-doubt and indecisiveness.

Perhaps the key is not to take failure so personally. Perhaps there’s a need to realise that failing once, making mistakes, doesn’t make us failures. 

Perhaps we should ask instead, “What can I do better next time?”


Somewhere in between graduating from university and today, I lost my voice. My writing voice, that is. 

The ironic thing is that I’ve been working as a writer, which meant that my writing became something functional. A piece of writing had to provide information, had to be part of a story, had to sell something. 

“Art has no function. It is not necessary,” said Gertrude Stein. 

By making my writing functional, it had stopped becoming art. The joy of art is in the work, not its result. And somehow, along the way, I lost sight of that. 

I lost the sense of play and exploration that comes with putting words and punctuation together in odd and exciting ways. I’ve forgotten what it’s like to write stories just because.

As my voice grew smaller, so did my Self. 

And I became accustomed to sterility in my surroundings. To the point of invalidating my own emotions. 

“You are not supposed to feel this much,” I tell myself. 

“Okay, you’ve felt sad, angry, overjoyed about this for long enough. Get on with life.”

I was trying to be stoic, but perhaps I’ve misunderstood what being stoic means. It’s not about denying emotions or suppressing them. 

Emotions are meant to be felt, to whatever extent they present themselves. 

It’s what you do with them that counts.  


The melancholy began to set in sometime in December. It’s always hard to pinpoint exactly when. As I counted down to the new year, it counted down with me.

It followed me into January and here it is with me now. Pressing down on my chest at night, crawling down the skin of my arms, working its way into my head.

I call it melancholy but that’s an understatement. It’s a voice in my head that tells me, “You’re not good enough.”

It says, “You’re a waste of space. You don’t know what you’re doing. You’re such a burden.”

It says, “Just give up on life already.”

This January was one of the lowest lows I’ve experienced in years. I couldn’t even muster up the energy to contemplate death. “I would like to sleep forever,” I said to a colleague one night.

On the outside of my head, I have been showing up, somewhat. At work, in messages, via email. My physical self walks out into the world and smiles. But on the inside, I am absent. 

My body has learned to operate without my consent.

After all, it’s been years since the melancholy first started. And although it tells me I shouldn’t want to live anymore, I’m not ready to give up on life.