I Came to Graduate School and Now I Have Writer’s Block

I have been remiss in undertaking the glorious endeavor of writing in the past few weeks…well, maybe months. When I sat down at my computer the other day, fingers ready to fly around the keys, a bowl of freshly popped popcorn at my side, piano music playing in the background, motivation was at an all-time high—and results at an all-time low.

“C’mon, Katie!” I chided myself. This is pathetic. I’m studying Catholic theology in graduate school, and I can’t seem to download any of the oodles of educational gems from my classes and upload them to this blank white screen, taunting me before my eyes.

With the popcorn gone and self-disappointment creeping in from every corner of the room, I paused, prayed, and waited for God to send down some brilliant revelation to help me justify my writer’s conundrum. Luke 11:9 to the rescue—“And I tell you, Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”

Of Course I Have Writer’s Block!

So that was when it hit me. Of course I have writer’s block! In the past few months, I have learned more about my Catholic faith than I have in years of self- and guided-study, outside of the context of a theological degree. Now I spend hours upon hours a week, not only soaking up the riches of our Catholic faith in the fifth-floor classroom overlooking the city of Denver, but also by diving into book after book, chapter after chapter, outside of class, immersing myself in an ocean of Catholic thought from the greatest of the Church’s saints, writers, philosophers, and theologians from the beginnings of Church history to the present day.

Confession: I have begun a good dozen articles in the past three weeks that are sitting in an electronic folder entirely unfinished—often forsaken right in the middle of a thought, with an incomplete sentence abandoned mid-page. How does this keep happening? Right as I pick up steam, right as my hopes and excitements are lifted beyond my expectations as I explore a subject full of insight from those much wiser than I will ever be, I am interrupted by an unexpectedly brilliant quote on a whole different subject matter altogether, or into my head pops a remembrance of a riveting discussion in class Monday night. And then off I go, leaving that first topic only half-covered (or less) and I move onto another screen, another idea…only to find myself encountering the same silly distractions once that new article has commenced!

The Crazy Little Puppy

The chaplain at our school once called me a “crazy little puppy.” (Somehow, some of the students picked it up and began using the term as well….) I was a little annoyed at first, as if he was telling me I was some kind of uncontrolled little animal, which, cute as a puppy is, was not the ideal metaphor I would choose to describe myself. He told me that my excitement for learning appeared unbridled, like a little puppy, which, upon entering new places, gets ecstatic at all the new environment has to offer him, and can hardly contain himself. “One thing at a time, Katie,” he told me. “There are many good things to learn here…but you will never learn them all, no matter how much you try.”

And therein lays the beauty of our Catholic faith. We can never fully penetrate it depths! How unimaginably blessed we are! I could spend my whole life learning about Catholic history, spirituality, doctrine, Scripture, and my knowledge wouldn’t equate to any more than a grain of sand near an ocean of God’s own knowledge of Himself, His creation, and His Church.

God has absolute knowledge, but He lets us participate in His knowledge, giving us glimpses into the mysteries of the faith, which wet our appetites for more and more glimpses, and a greater and greater participation in His own knowledge of the supremely True, Good, and Beautiful.

Too Much of a Good Thing…Can Be a Good Thing

I like to think that I am extra-fortunate for having the privilege of studying Catholic theology. I went to the seminary library the other day to gather biblical commentaries for one of my paper topics this semester. I’m sure it would have been funny to see the dumbfounded look on my face when I discovered an entire shelf of books—actually, multiple shelves—devoted to biblical commentaries on the book of first Samuel alone! I could spend my whole life checking books out of that library and never make a noticeable dent in the catalog of literature it contains. And I am speaking here only of the tangible books! Imagine all the time spent learning God and the Faith through prayer, getting to know the “book of the soul,” the “book of nature,” all of those priceless insights you can only find in direct, personal relationship with the God Who IS. There is so much that even the greatest books can’t tell us, that only the Master Teacher can.

Are you penetrating the depths of our Catholic faith? I’m realizing more now than ever before that I have much to learn…and my searching can never reach a point of exhaustion. What other fields of study can offer us the breadth and mystery that we find in philosophy and theology? With God, there is no end.

I Hunger and Thirst

My favorite passage of St. Augustine’s Confessions reads, “I have learnt to love you late, Beauty at once so ancient and so new! I have learnt to love you late! You were within me, and I was in the world outside myself…You called me; you cried aloud to me; you broke my barriers of deafness. You shone upon me; your radiance enveloped me; you put my blindness to flight. You shed your fragrance about me; I drew breath and now I gasp for your sweet odor. I tasted you, and now I hunger and thirst for you. You touched me, and I am inflamed with love of your peace” (Book X, Chapter 27, emphasis added).

What are you doing to grow in the knowledge of your faith on a daily basis? Have you tasted God and His truth? If you have, you must be hungering and thirsting for Him. You must long to love Him more, and for that to happen, you must learn more about Him. Knowledge of God breeds love of God.

Block-be-Gone

Now let’s hope, that having undertaken the task of writing on the topic of there being too many topics, I will have cleared my mind and un-cramped my writer’s block, so that I can begin again to penetrate the deep abyss of Catholic thought, teaching, and life. Ah! I better get writing! There is much to talk about!

If you liked this article, click on “Recommend” to share with your Facebook network.  And please share your thoughts on this article by submitting your comments below.The Editors

Print this entry

About the Author

Katie Warner is a Catholic wife, stay-at-home mother, speaker, writer, and evangelist who is passionate about taking small steps toward a more meaningful and spiritual life, and helping others do the same.

She is the author of Head & Heart: Becoming Spiritual Leaders for Your Family (Emmaus Road Publishing, Fall 2015), a book that offers practical strategies and inspiring stories to help men and women better lead and love their families toward heaven.

Katie writes and speaks about a variety of spiritual and practical topics, and has presented in venues like the National Catholic Bible Conference and numerous Legatus chapters, the Eucharistic Congress of Atlanta, EWTN radio, and on EWTN television. She is also a presenter for the Symbolon RCIA and Opening the Word programs produced by the Augustine Institute. Katie is one of the original contributing writers for The Integrated Catholic Life and a correspondent for the National Catholic Register.

Katie works very part-time (usually during toddler naps and late at night) as the Manager of Communication and Evangelization for Catholics Come Home, a national Catholic evangelism apostolate working to invite fallen-away Catholics and non-Catholics home to the Catholic Church. She holds a graduate degree in Catholic Theology, specializing in Evangelization and Catechesis, from the Augustine Institute in Denver, Colorado. Her favorite ministry work—and day-job—is family life, and she enjoys homemaking and mothering in sunny Southern California, where she lives with her husband and son.

Connect with Katie on:

Author Archive Page

2 Comments

  1. Katie,

    This article really resonates with me. When I first came into the Church, I was determined to learn everything I could about our wonderful faith. I quickly became overwhelmed until wise friends encouraged me to relax a little and not forget to enjoy my faith journey. I still read a great deal, but I also take time for prayer and reflection. I need to be listening for what God wants me to do as well as reading, writing and talking about it.

    Thank you for this reminder today!

    God bless,

    Randy

  2. Randy,

    I appreciate your comment about conversion enthusiasm, for it is such a season of graceful inundation, it would seem the sweetest, mystical cotton candy is showering down upon us from Heaven, directly into our hungry and fervent souls. We devour knowledge, read too many books, and live, breathe, drink, and sleep the church.

    Katie’s burden is she is a graduate student, so she must study and absorb excessively, for that is the nature of academic life. However, for someone who claims to be suffering writer’s block, I found her recent article to be refreshing with a flavor of renewing excitement. She has made the similar discovery that St. Thomas of Acquinas did in the aftermath of writing the Summa. Great job Katie. I look forward to your next article. And remember the greatest remedy to writer’s block is time in front of the Blessed Sacrament. God bless.

Post a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *