If you don’t believe there’s no such thing as writer’s block, sit down now. You can write ten pages titled “Why I am Blocked.”
Writer’s block gets a bad rep
Every time you aren’t writing, you blame “writer’s block.” You dump each incident into the black festering caldron of blockage, when maybe the real reason is that you’d rather go bowling.
If you’re blocked because you’d rather go bowling, this requires a different treatment than if your block is fear of success because you will surpass your father. One of the main ways to unblock is to identify the block.
We think we are so smart
Do you have this symptom: You think you have it inside and you are trying every which way to get it out and it refuses to come out. Let’s say there’s a big black box that is your creativity, and you think that what is inside the big black box is a little blonde puppy. But no matter what you do – shout, cajole, bribe – you can’t get it to come out of the box. You know why? It’s not a blonde puppy. It is not what you think it is, and your preconception of what it is keeps it in there.
So do this: (1) Relinquish the mistaken idea that it’s a puppy. (2) Agree that there is something in the box, and it would like to come out. (3) Let it out. (4) Now that you’ve let it out, you can see what it really is.
How can you name what you’ve created before you create it? Let it out. See what it is. Maybe it is a puppy, but with twelve feet and green spots. Whatever it is that wants to come out, it’s much greater than you think. And you’re thinking you know what it is, keeps it in there and keeps it common.
Releasing yourself from the tyranny – of brilliant writing
I think I know why Shakespeare could write so well – he didn’t have to compare himself to Shakespeare!
Do you think your writing has to be Shakespearean in tone and lofty in lugubrious profundity? All you have to do as a writer is run up to your reader and say, “Hey, I gotta tell you this stuff.”
This is the worst feeling in the world
If writing is painful, don’t blame writing, blame pain. It’s not writing’s fault, because when you are writing and it is flowing, it’s one of the best feelings you’ll ever experience. Writing doesn’t hurt; stopping hurts. If you are in a morass of the worst feelings in the world because you can’t write, sit down now. Write about it. Take comfort in the sanctuary of writing before choosing to go back to stoppage.
Advantage of writer’s block
Except for the obligatory paraphernalia that declares you are a writer, a writer’s block is the only evidence you have that you are a writer. Do this: go buy a pipe; sew suede elbow patches on your tweed sportscoat. Or best of all, fill pages. You think because you don’t have pages you are not a writer. So fill pages. An eight-minute short story on your dog, a twelve-page list of all the people you ever knew, know now, and, will know in your lifetime. Fill pages, let them tell you that you are a writer. (PS: If you want to be a doctor, you first become a doctor, with training and time. If you want to be a writer, let yourself become a writer.)
Where am I – and why does it hurt so bad?
Inner Movie Axiom: Signs of struggle are symptoms. They are there to show you to go another way.
Notice when you are struggling. You feel lousy. That’s enough. Just stay with how you feel. You will find yourself trying to get out of the feeling. That’s struggle.
You will think, “What’s the matter with me? Why do I feel so bad? I’m stupid.”
You will go from analysing to criticizing, until your thinking parts talks your feeling part into feeling much worse.
That’s why it’s called struggle, because you’re not accepting how you feel. The act of not accepting the feeling is struggle.
So when you are in a funk, stay with the feeling. Don’t add more pressure on yourself to get out of the feeling.
When you find your mind snooping around your feelings, it’s your mind’s duty to leave yourself alone.
Here’s the job you can give your mind to do:
You stay with the feelings, let your mind notice your behaviour. Your behaviour will give you information about why you’re feeling awful.
Here’s one way to do that…
Talking yourself into yourself
First notice what you say when you’re talking to yourself:
“I’m no good.”
“I can’t do this.”
Would you let anybody talk to you like that? you’d probably sue. Now turn those statements around:
“I am unlimited.”
“I can do what I want.”
Write a fan letter to yourself now [given them a gay form]. Go ahead, write for eight minutes.
How to stop giving yourself – rejection slips
The way to stop rejection is to accept it. Accept rejection. That’s the way it is. Rejection is not personal. Don’t make it personal.
I spoke to a man who sailed around the world alone. He was interested in conquering the sea. Somewhere off the coast of South America his boat capsized and he spent forty days floating on a piece of wreckage contemplating the sea he set out to conquer. It was then he understood two things: (1) he would not conquer the sea, and (2) the sea was not out to conquer him. It was not going to win while he lost. He learned that the sea is indifferent.
When we face rejection we would rather cultivate a relationship of rage over who rejects us than accept that they are indifferent.
Accept it. Don’t drown yourself.
How to tell when your mind wants recess
Do you have these symptoms? Do you have ants in your pants? Are you full of the dickens, suffering from acute sassiness? Remedy: Go play.
We don’t want you to have to use all your energy just to keep yourself in the chair. Then there’s no energy left for you to do the work. So go. Get it out of your system. See you later.
100 ways to lighten up
Go out into nature. Nature is smarter than we are. It will reset your pace, untangle the knots you’ve gotten yourself into. Watch a bird. Have a meaningful conversation with an oak tree.
Go to the park. Slide down the slide. Leave your anguish at the top. Slide away from it.
Fly a kite, write your unclear problems across its face. See it way up there and get a new perspective.
Invite yourself to a friend’s house to be taken care of for the weekend.
Take care of someone else’s problems.
Tell yourself a terrible joke in the mirror.
Stand on your head.
Go to the store. Smell all the soaps. Pick out the perfect one. Buy a candle too. Go home. Take a long, hot candlelit bath or shower. Fall asleep.
Finish this list.
Notice, the way to start writing has nothing to do with writing.
©Marshall Dodgsons, 1971.