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