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Painting by Fabio Hurtado

I am dubious about the existence of blocks or frustrations peculiar to writers. Sometimes people claim they are blocked when they have nothing to say, or they have, temporarily anyway, exhausted their subject; this is not pathology. Sometimes a project goes into an incubation period; as I’ve said very often, the moment you have a good idea isn’t always the moment to see it through. Writing is a long game and you have to be patient with yourself and your material. A great deal happens in the dark, as it were; work goes on half-consciously. You have to trust this process is happening.

Of course, writers find it difficult to trust themselves. It can seem such an inflated claim, that you are a writer…. But there’s no point in having a healthy word-count, unless they’re the right words. Writing’s not an industrial process… Compression is the first grace of style and takes hard labour. Your best days are sometimes those when you end up with less on the page than when you started. — Hilary Mantel

I always kept a journal but nobody ever saw my writing. Anything I created I created as a lesson to myself, even my painting. Whether my creations attracted approval or not was less important than what I was able to learn from doing it. I noticed that onlookers tended to project their own mindset onto my work anyway. Sometimes people asked for logical explanations when I was waiting to see if it touched them emotionally or not. If not, nothing I could say would make a difference.

People want to approach art with words and logic when they really should ask themselves if their heart is touched or not. If not, no words can make you love it.

I don’t know why it would be different with writing. The center of life is the heart, not the reasoning mind. Logic follows emotion, not the other way around.

So now I’m writing, using my usual methods of following my nose to see what comes forth. Buried under levels of mind are voices in me that have things they want to discuss. It’s always interesting to see what one or the other has to say. We receive instruction that way from sources of wisdom we didn’t know we contained. When we lose contact with our inner sources, we say we have “writer’s block.”

If I had writer’s block, I would write about it to see what comes up. It could present an opportunity to learn something. I’m pretty sure that I would have writer’s block if I tried to write for a market. The expectations of other people could engender a hesitation to speak. The point in writing, I think, is to find and keep a focus on why you are creating something out of words.

There’s an overriding meaning, a purpose to creativity. You need to communicate something. Learning what that is comes from putting words together in a way that makes sense to both the writer and the reader. The thread of meaning of that effort is the alpha and omega of any creativity. You grow your own insights as you help others to see.

Creativity always involves listening to whatever rises up in you. If you are trying to guess what others want, you may forget to listen to yourself. That’s fatal. Your deep mind will clam up. You may diagnose yourself with a thing called writer’s block, but you are just judging and not listening to yourself. Giving your creative self what it needs, a friendly and accepting ear, is the cure.

Let it be, as a wise person once sang. Let it be.

Written by

I occasionally write fiction and also about creativity, loving, language learning and travel. I’m a longtime painter and reader.

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