Turn Writers Blocks Into Stepping Stones

Turn Writers Blocks Into Stepping Stones



Years ago at​ a​ presentation at​ the UCLA Extension Writer’s Program, I promised an​ audience to​ teach them to​ conquer this beast once and for all. Later, another instructor approached me and said “why did you say that to​ those people? It’s not possible.”

Poor woman. All she was saying is​ that SHE cannot break writer’s block, which told me all I need to​ know about her career. in​ all likelihood a​ promising beginning, perhaps an​ award-winning poem or​ book…and then pain.

It is​ not only possible to​ end writer’s block forever, but you can actually use it​ to​ your advantage!

First, let us define it​ in​ some useful way: Writer’s block is​ the inability to​

1) Produce new text.
2) Edit and polish existing text
3) Finish projects on a​ reasonable schedule
4) Send those projects out for editorial judgment.
5) Continue sending them out until they are sold.

Accepting the above, I’m going to​ give you a​ definition of​ the root cause of​ Writer’s Block that will actually help you in​ every arena of​ your life.

“Writer’s Block is​ nothing more than a​ confusion of​ two different states of​ mind: the Flow state, where you produce new text, and the Editing state, where you evaluate and polish what you have written.”

WB is​ such a​ killer because most of​ us have done far more reading than we have writing, and spend far more time in​ critical analysis of​ finished, polished work of​ the masters than in​ experiencing our own early drafts. So when we try to​ create text, we measure our first draft efforts against the polished work of​ the world’s great writers. Immediately, that “this is​ garbage!” voice goes off in​ your head, and you have a​ block.

It is​ said that novice writers must work through a​ million words of​ garbage before reaching their true voice. How in​ the world will you ever get through it​ if​ you constantly judge every word? if​ you will learn to​ turn that voice off, you will learn a​ massive and important lesson about the structure of​ the human psyche.

But what exactly is​ “Flow”? it​ is​ the psychological state where time seems to​ vanish, where you “fall into the page”, where the rest of​ the world floats away as​ you concentrate. This is​ similar to​ the “hypnogogic” state experienced just prior to​ sleep, and the first thing in​ the morning. it​ is​ experienced in​ distance running, dancing (remember the lyrics to​ “Flashdance”? “She’s moved into the danger zone, where the dancer becomes the dance”) and, to​ be perfectly frank, it​ is​ experienced during sexual relations in​ the moments just prior to​ orgasm. it​ is​ the dissolution of​ the subject-object relationship sought by numerous schools of​ meditation.

1) Alternate days (or work sessions) between flow and editing. if​ necessary, wear different hats, or​ sit in​ different chairs for each. NEVER DO BOTH in​ THE SAME SESSION

2) Set yourself a​ daily output that will get you to​ your goal of​ one million words in​ less than 5 years. 1000 words a​ day will do it​ in​ three years. That’s roughly comparable to​ earning an​ AA degree. Not too shabby!

3) Explore and specifically study “Flow State” as​ a​ discipline. Do your internet searches and find a​ physical or​ mental activity (running, dancing, meditation, Tai chi, yoga, etc.) that opens a​ doorway to​ this inner world.

4) Listen to​ largo rhythm, sixty-beat per minute string music. Vivaldi is​ perfect for this, and induces “Alpha” (flow) state rapidly and effectively. Stay away from music with lyrics, but soft jazz is​ also terrific.

5) Practice making pictures in​ your mind, and then writing down what you see WITHOUT judging the quality of​ your descriptions. You want to​ enhance the connection between your deep consciousness and your typing or​ writing.

6) if​ you can’t find a​ good meditation technique, just sit and “listen” to​ your own heartbeat for 15-30 minutes a​ day.

There are many other ideas, but these will get you started. The most valuable thing you will learn is​ to​ “turn off” or​ ignore the negative voices in​ your head. And an​ artist who learns to​ do this on demand is​ on the way to​ integration of​ the deep levels of​ the unconscious…and greater joy in​ the act of​ creation.




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