Writer’s Block And Its Discontents

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The inner source

There are those who believe in writer’s block and those who don’t. I believe that any creative person can have a block under certain circumstances. Anyone who creates has doubts and concerns as the creation comes into focus. Standards, rules and judgements of quality can overwhelm the playful energy that normally animates a creative work, taking the joy out of it, depending on the mental climate of the creator.

I believe that it is that mental climate that offers — or refuses to offer — the fertile ground for the nascent creation to get up enough steam to develop. We don’t realise how powerful our thoughts are, how their judgemental and condemning character can stop us dead in our tracks.

One way of dealing with doubt is to create something anyway, regardless how much we criticise our effort as we’re doing it. In my opinion, it’s best to get rolling and see where it goes. Maybe the light doesn’t go on until you are almost at the end of the piece. Maybe the inner voices of doubt will grow weaker during the process.

If one value can become paramount— having fun with it, of finding that center of true interest in the act of writing — it may be that we were just intimidated by our own self-created chimeras. Maybe we were too convinced of readymade ideas about our effort, ideas formed by “education.” Maybe we need a little more of the approach of a child — fun, play, enjoyment of the process. Fewer standards, in other words, fewer yardsticks.

It seems to me we need to find and affirm what kind of creators we are. Once we are clear about that, we have an instrument we instinctively know how to play, and we naturally love playing it. We’re not trying to play something we have no feeling for.

I think the issue comes down to an unconscious self-alienation that plagues the expression of our core being. The source of this issue is a kind of self refusal, a kind of adaptation to the surrounding culture that is too unquestioning, too inculcated for us to identify its effects. We can’t stop measuring ourselves.

So, I’m proposing two things. I’m proposing self-listening to notice the tone and thrust of our thoughts, and I’m also saying it’s helpful to just go ahead and create something, to set up a momentum of acting “in spite of.”

Those two things can loosen the lock your own thinking has over your creativity.

Befriend the inner voice. It wants to speak.

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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