Today I’m welcoming Mari L. McCarthy to the blog to share a great guest post. Mari is the owner of Create Write Now, a website dedicated to all things journaling and is hosting the upcoming Start Journaling and Change Your Life in 7 Days Challenge from June 4-10 (Twitter hashtag #7DaysStart). Her stop today is part of her Women on Writing tour, ongoing right now!
Writer’s Block is an Illusion – Mari L. McCarthy
I’ve had many experiences in my life that have disciplined me, in that they brought me nose-to-nose with really hard challenges that have no easy out. I’m sure your experience has been the same.
When you have to deal with these challenges, what’s the process? For me, I go through:
- Denial – There’s a way around this.
- Anger – Well #@$!*&^! Why can’t I find a way around this?
- Sullen acquiescence – Okay already, tell me what I have to do.
- Action – Oh. Yeah. I see. I’m getting it.
- Practice – This again?
- Mastery – hmmmmmmmmmmm.
Well, not necessarily Mastery every time, but I do get better with practice. When it comes to writing, practice definitely makes progress happen much more readily.
Now. All this is to say: challenges are processes, which can be unfolded like a napkin, and put to effective use. Challenges are not discouragement; rather, they are meant to accelerate your progress.
Take the oft-mentioned writer’s block, for instance. Just about anyone who writes has known the odd paralysis of writer’s block that can sometimes descend, making you feel as though there is nothing to say.
Of course, the truth is not that you have nothing to say, but that you can’t decide which thing to say. That is, your attention is not focused.
The problem with writer’s block is that we panic, leaping to the assumption that we’ve run out of imagination and ideas. In fact, the opposite is true: we have more ideas than we know how to manage.
Next time you realize you have been staring at the blank page for endless minutes, try a few of the following re-focusing exercises.
- Put pen to paper and let it go where it wills, whether that is nonsense scribbles or words or sentences.
- Describe something that is nearby, whether small or large. Let your description go wherever it wants.
- Write a list of concerns and ideas in rapid succession, as your thoughts present them to you. Select one from the list and write.
- Do something else. Taking a shower or a walk, reading or making a sketch may well serve to bring you into focus.
- Meditate, or sit very still for several minutes, keeping your attention on your breathing the whole time. When you’re done, start writing without thinking.
The wall of resistance that we sometimes sense when we want to be creative is a false barrier, but it can seem frighteningly real.