B- Block: The Self-deprecating Method of Preventing your own Success

Most writers at some point in their careers experience this. It’s that blankness that comes when you know you should be writing. It’s that void of nothing where all the best juicy ideas should be. It’s the infinite inky wall of smoke that stands between your conscious and unconscious mind where your wonder and creativity should shine through.

Who has sat down in front of their computer in the morning and simply stared at a blank word processing document, and realised after 2 hours that they have not typed one single word? A few years ago this was me. I had lots of projects started, but whenever I tried to work on any of them my inspiration evaporated.  Sometimes I would try to work through it and just type random things: thinking that eventually something would trigger and I’d stop typing and start writing – edit the junk later… job done.

But no. On these occasions I just waffled absolute nonsense. I was wasting my time.

Sometimes trying to push through it would even give me a headache, and I realised that forcing it wasn’t the answer. The more I tried to write, the greater my resistance to the connection to my creative mind.

Ok I exaggerate, sometimes, if I persisted, I was able to get through it eventually; perhaps after 1000-5000 useless words of pointless babble I might begin to connect, but the moments were fleeting and very hard won. Not particularly efficient in an industry where you get paid by volume of quality words rather than an hourly rate

I began to wonder why this would be. Why is this a thing that writers get sometimes? What causes it and how do you get through it? I knew I was a writer, but I felt inadequate and suddenly understood what it must be like for those men who can’t get it up. It was emasculating…. even though I’m a woman, and it has nothing to do with being male or female; but there is no gender neutral word for that feeling I had, (at least none that I know). I felt impotent.

And so I wallowed in self -pity: a writer unable to write.

Who’s with me here? Know what this is like? This is where the slow descent into gratifying addictions can happen. But we know about those. So how to overcome block without the use of substances that alter brain chemistry?

Improve your state of mind. Simple answer – tricky execution. You have to let go of writing altogether and find your zen. Or to put it another way, you need to let go your negative thought pattern and raise your vibrations. Or yet another way, practice yoga and mindfulness. The options are actually as many as there are individuals, but essentially to reconnect to your unconscious mind so you can write again, you have to stop writing, ironically, and live.

For me it was actually yoga, but it could just as easily have been walks in the woods, gardening, striping engines or cycle hikes across Dartmoor.

The important thing is to relax and reconnect with yourself and find that activity that inspires you to concentrate, to focus and relax your mind.

People think of meditation as this buddhist activity for people on a spiritual path, but it’s actually available to everyone in everyday tasks, including the most random of western activities that are easily available to us. You don’t need an Ashram in the mountains of India, (as amazing as that does sound), all you need is presence in what you do, everyday.

As soon as I stopped focusing on what I couldn’t do, I was able to make a stronger connection to my imagination than I have ever had before and my thoughts flow much more freely.

Eckhart Tolle is a favourite philosopher of mine, and this meme sums up how I view Writers Block…

mindfulness-uitspraak-eckhart-tolle

How many of you have experienced Writers’ Block? How has it manifested for you? And how were you able to overcome it?

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14 responses to “B- Block: The Self-deprecating Method of Preventing your own Success

  1. I can relate to the feelings you’ve described. But as you point out, the desperation and guilt don’t last and we quickly recover to produce some great writing. Thank you for sharing. Have a great day.

  2. These are great ideas! 🙂 It took me a long time to learn not to force it and to just try something else for awhile. I found crocheting works for me. 🙂

  3. I read something once about that “block” being a crucial part of the writing process. It is your mind being active, not inactive.I don’t know if I believe that, but the article made some sense. I know that often my block has more to do with attitude, like when I start thinking about how a reader might react or what a reader might expect rather than what I want to write, or what wants to be written (which is often more important than what I want).

    • Yes my best work writes itself and I have to be prepared in any day to change from my writing plan if I suddenly feel the urge to write for a different project.

      It’s the opposite to a lot of the advice out there and I can see why that is. My way is not necessarily efficient in the short term, but hopefully it’ll pay off in the long term. 🙂

  4. You know me, so you know how my writers block works. Although, after reading this I think my writers block is more connected to the fact that I’m more scared of success than I am failure, so I won’t finish a project, or I’ll talk myself into a project not being good enough because it’s a better alternative to it actually being finished and good.

    Though sometimes it’s just simply because I haven’t fleshed the story out in my head before writing and I simply get stuck…

    • I’ve always thought your writing speed was awesome. When you’re not worrying about success or failure you just write uninhibitedly, which has always been my Achilles Heel…. when we word war I’m lucky if I get 200 words compared with your 600 in the same time…

      You have some fab stories on the go, I particularly like the one about the family trip to the nursing home to see nanna, and of course your current wattpad story The Fall which makes me itchy but in a good way, like I want to know what happens next, like now…..

      Finishing is definitely a problem I think lots of writers can relate to. I don’t have finishing in my list for how to build a writer…. oversight!!!! Surely that has to be the number one necessary skill…..!!!!

      • See I had completely forgot about the nursing home story. Yet another idea that’s been lost and left on the ‘to be continued’ pile.

        Oh shh you, stop saying lovely things. You might only write 200 words, but you get 200 quality words compared to my 600 of drabble which I then have to edit!

        Good news, there are two more parts before it gets completely left, but I am working on the next part. Trying to figure out where it needs to go to get back on track!

  5. I haven’t experienced writers’ block, because I’ve never had time, but I’ve certainly been discouraged and considered giving up writing before. The notion that “real” writers write all the time is extremely harmful, and has hurt a lot of people.

    I wish we’d be kinder to ourselves…and our fellow writers.

  6. I did the NaNoWriMo challenge and ran into Writer’s block just a tad, but I more often find myself with “worker’s block” where I keep myself busy doing the non-important but “yay, I ticked something off of my list” and not the larger, more important projects or tasks… Thanks for sharing!

    @AnthonyFNavarro from
    Constantly Improving

    • Think your ‘workers block’ may be procrastination in disguise 😉

      Nano Wrimo is awesome, I’ve failed more times than I’ve completed but every one is a success in some way or other simply because I’ve learned something more about myself.

  7. Another excellent post with wonderful thoughts to muse on. Right now my unblocker is working in the spring time yard, watching new blooms appear as I try to tame the weeds threatening to overtake us all.
    Happy A to Z’ing.

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