I got nothin’, you think, as you stare at the stark whiteness and start to count the flash of the cursor, praying desperately for inspiration for your writing.
Writer’s block sucks, you continue thinking, and if I don’t figure this out quick, I’m dead meat.
Writer’s block is for sissies
Yeah, I said it. Here’s why writer’s block is more of an excuse than a real thing.
What stops your creative flow has more to do with what you think about the feeling of having no words come, than the actual problem of having no words come to you. The meaning you’re giving it is paralyzing you and making it worse. And rather than doing something helpful, you dwell in the stew of your mind and bake.
How do I know? I’ve been there; six books and close to a thousand blogs-worth. I used to get so stuck in my I’m-not-good-enough thoughts you couldn’t pull me out even with a hot cinnamon bun under my nose.
I’ve read so many suggestions in other articles about this, some good and some not-so, that I chuckle, because what people need are practical tools to practice, not suggestions.
You’re about to be given a toolkit for writer’s block that’s the last thing you’ll ever need to make sure you’re never stopped up by a lack of ideas ever again?
Cool, I thought you’d be excited.
Get ready to practice the tools to prevent writer’s block
A warning though: practice, not just reading this article, will ensure you get into the flow any time you want to be in the flow. It takes the practice of another level of awareness to give you a magic wand filled with unlimited wishes.
Yes, it feels that good.
And once you have the secrets you’ll want to tell everyone like I’m doing, so make sure to share this article when you start to really get it. You can even email me, cuz I get excited about these things.
Writer’s block tools you’ve heard of already
Like the tips mentioned in this article, I’ve tried telling people what they need to do to bust through the block. But telling is way less effective than showing. So I aim to show here.
So, yes, like that 10-Tips article, make sure you set up a regular writing schedule, practice self-compassion, take writing on as a job, take time off of writing, set deadlines and stay accountable to them, look at the why behind the block, switch up your projects for a little variety, use writing prompts to warm you up, Feng Shui your writing space, and remember why you’re writing to begin with.
Thing is, you’ve probably heard all these before and you get it, but it still isn’t working. That’s because once you’re stuck in writer’s block, it’s harder to get out than if you practice the awareness that will prevent it from coming on in the first place.
You need more powerful tools and explanations in your toolkit
Techniques like changing up your writing tools, or letting it all out and screaming into a pillow with your frustrations are interesting tools too. And they’re meant to help you shift the energy of the block. Problem here is, again, you’re already stuck. And while techniques like stopping writing for everyone else, over-thinking your writing, changing up the time or place you write, or taking a walk, going to the bookstore, or browsing the internet will be good distractions, they aren’t going to help you understand the deeper connection to your flow that you’re craving.
You’ll need more powerful how-to tools. You need tools that make you a conduit for the channelled energy that feels like a being bigger than you is doing the writing. And you need way to make that happen any time you feel like.
Your forever writer’s block-busting toolkit
Finally here we go. I’m going to spell it out short and sweet and then we’ll take a longer road through showing you how to do it. If you begin to practice these tools, stay consistent with them, and then incorporate them into your daily life as a positive new habit and discipline, get ready to boast about never feeling blocked up again.
Short and sweet: Part one includes what you feel, what you think about what you feel, and what you’re making what you think mean. Part two includes having a long list of things to flip your switch to when you feel like shit. And part three includes the consistent ability to feel, tolerate the feeling, flip your switch and write anyway.
Part one of your writer’s block toolkit
This part is absolutely essential and if you skip it or don’t give it enough attention none of the rest of the tools will work. No magic wand. No boasting to your friends. So listen up.
What you feel is more important than what you’re thinking as far as your blocks.
In other words, make the sensations in your body more of a focus than the thoughts you’re thinking at first. Why? Because the body and its sensations are the language of the intuition and inner wisdom, from which your connection to all things muse-like comes from. If you can’t feel, you can’t connect.
If you can feel at any moment’s notice, you can always connect. It really is that easy.
“Intuition, gut instinct, sixth sense, all interchangeable words we use when we’re trying to describe that feeling of something reaching out to us that didn’t quite make the trip by ordinary means,” says Karen Elleise in this article about using your sensations to connect to your intuition.
Here’s the how-to exercise for feeling.
Exercise to use feeling to connect with your creative flow
If you’d prefer to listen to something rather than read it, please find an audio exercise HERE. This is a guided mindfulness exercise that will help you practice body awareness.
Put your feet on the floor, hands in a comfy position on your lap or by your sides and close your eyes, if that helps. Begin to clear your mind and connect with the breath. The more you connect with the physical sensations the better. With each exhale release a little more. Let your body soften into the chair and let go. Practice this for several minutes while clearing your mind of thoughts as they pass through.
The idea is to notice the thought, let it go, and connect back into the sensations of your body, feeling each and noticing with curiosity, not attaching or focusing too much on any one of them.
When you’re ready set a timer for five minutes and without censoring yourself, or worrying about spelling, punctuation, grammar or even finishing sentences, start writing and fill in the blank: I feel _____.
Detach from any perfection, inner critic voice or constraint that the usual writing rules you follow have put on you. No rules, just write from that embodied, feeling space.
Exercise to make you aware of what you’re thinking about your block
When we experience writer’s block it’s usually as a barrage of nasty thoughts that tend to get nastier the longer we suffer. Using awareness to not only notice the thoughts but actually take stock of them is a powerful tool in your toolkit.
When you get the thoughts out of your head and onto paper you can assess, and make decisions about what’s helpful or not. With this awareness you have a choice to pick something that moves you through the block and onto happier free-flowing writer waters.
Here’s the next exercise: I want you to quiet down and connect like before. So you can go up and read that part again, or you can click on the audio link HERE and listen. But do not, under any circumstances, think you’ll succeed without this part of the exercise.
Body awareness and connection is the key and the big secret
It’s the thing people are lazy about and skip. It’s also the magic wand.
After several minutes of connecting, you can open your eyes and start to write. This time I want you to make a list of all the unhelpful inner critic thoughts or beliefs you hear in your head or have been told in the past.
The list might include statements like “This isn’t good enough,” “I’m not good enough,” “This has been done before,” “Who am I to write about this?” “What if someone thinks this is stupid?” You get the idea. Write them all out.
You now have something to help you the next time you hear the voices. You can recognize them as outside of yourself. You can find them on your list. You can realize they are old, outdated, conditioned thoughts and beliefs that don’t serve you anymore.
With awareness you have a choice to pick something better.
What you’re making your thoughts mean
An even more important awareness than what you’re thinking is what you’re making those thoughts mean. In other words, are you believing everything you think? Or are you just allowing the thoughts in and letting them take up valuable real estate in your mind? Or do you recognize them for what they are and actually do something about it?
Thinking the thoughts and actually believing them and acting on them are what’s key. If you believe things like you’re not good enough, or the topic has been written about before and you don’t have anything new to say about it, then you’re paralyzed before you even start.
On the other hand, if you notice the thought, this isn’t good enough, recognize it’s one of your repetitive thought habits that paralyzes you, and then ask yourself, “Is this really true?” You’ll begin to make some space between the block and yourself. When you make space, you’re clearing room for something new, exciting and muse-like to move in.
What’s a different, better, healthier thought to grab onto at that point? Choose something like, I have a lot to offer on this subject and I can’t wait to share it.
Part two of your writer’s block toolkit
Choosing something healthier to think, believe or do is a tool I call flipping the switch. And you can only practice when you’re aware you’re blocked up and thinking negatively.
Flipping the switch is a powerful tool I teach to my writing students who get stuck. It means that with the foundation of awareness you’ve built up and practiced you can flip your switch, or choose the thoughts, beliefs and actions that best serve your creative flow.
You’ll need a great list of things to flip your switch to so you can do this. That list will include feelings you love to feel, things you’re grateful for and actions you can take that shift the energy of your block.
It’s all about the energy flow
All writer’s block really is is a lack of energy flow. And we’re lacking flow because we’ve disconnected from the body, which is where the flow will come from. We make the mistake of thinking it will come from thinking our way there. So we think more. And we get more stuck.
Here’s my favorite exercise to begin to build up your list of things to flip your switch to.
Quiet your mind and connect as in the first exercise. If you’d like to listen to that audio again, it’s HERE. But makes sure to spend a few minutes as you’ve done in each exercise to connect to your body and the breath and feeling senses. Remember, it’s your magic wand.
When you’re ready, set a timer for five minutes and fill in the blank: What do you love to do so much you lose track of time?
When you flip your switch to the feelings of love, gratitude and joy, you’ll be shifting into flow energy. You can repeat this exercise and write a list of things you’re grateful for. And you should repeat again with ways you love to feel. Whenever you’re feeling a hint of writer’s block, take one of your lists out and read through it and conjure up the feelings. Take a few deep breaths and start writing.
Another way to flip your switch to flow is by literally moving your body. So things like dancing, singing, deep breathing, walking, jogging, skipping, any form of exercise, taking a hot bath, doing a yoga pose, etc…The trick is to be in your body and not caught up in your mind when you’re moving. So pay attention to what you’re feeling and quiet the mind as often as you can.
Part three of your writer’s block toolkit
We’ve practiced awareness of body and awareness of thoughts and we’ve created lists of feelings and movements we can choose when we have the feeling of a block. All of these tools are best practiced daily, as a lifestyle, rather than only when you’re feeling stuck. The more you practice, the more and more you’ll be saying, “Writer’s block? What’s that?”
And…the only way your magic wand and power over writer’s block will work is to be consistently able to feel what you feel, tolerate the feelings of it, and write anyway.
Wow, that sounds like the billion dollar answer, right? If you’ve been practicing you now have a greater ability to feel. If you’ve been practicing you now have a better ability to catch yourself in unhelpful thoughts and what you’re making them mean, and then flip your switch to something more helpful. And if you’re practicing, that means you always have the choice to take action through the feelings, whatever those may be, and write something anyway.
Detach from the outcome
Part of the struggle here is attaching to the outcome of what we write. Is it perfect? Is it appropriate? Is it good enough? Is it going to be liked? Is it going to be popular?
When we set ourselves up with expectations and worries about the results of our writing, we almost ensure more writer’s block.
The solution becomes you’re willingness to feel the feeling, notice the thoughts, flip your switch to something that aligns with your goals of being a writer and your bigger vision for that writing, and then write something—anything—anyway.
In her book, Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott encourages us to “let go and write your shitty first draft.” She helps us understand that those detached first drafts can lead to the clarity and brilliance in our next draft.
While I don’t really think any writing is shitty, I do think that we attach so much to our writing as being perfect we don’t give ourselves any room to just write for the sake of the Feng Shui; the energy shift that will open the flow for more, better writing.
Don’t just think about it, do it
I’ve really enjoyed learning these tools and have experienced some magical-feeling results from practicing them. Like anything, it’s the practice that will create momentum and power. There’s a difference between picking up a hammer and starting to build a house, and having had a lot of practice with a hammer before you start building.
Learn the tools. Practice the tools. Feel the magic and mastery of the connection and you’ll look forward to the day you realize writer’s block isn’t real at all.
Bonus tools for writer’s block
No toolkit is complete without some special tools. You know those tools with the pretty handles that you love picking up? Those tools that when you use them you almost always feel like a total pro?
Here’s a list of (slightly alternative but effective) 5 bonus tools and techniques that have helped me write like a prolific maniac and never look back:
- Write in a notebook instead of typing. The brain-hand-creativity connection is real.
- Declutter your writing space and room before you sit down to write. Marie Kondo anyone?
- Light a candle, place a crystal, in other words, create a sacred writing space.
- Thank the archangels of writing and creativity, Gabriel, Metatron and Jophiel before you start. Or, just say a little mantra that goes something like, “Thank you so much for the flow and creativity I’m feeling in my writing today.”
- Find a writing partner and make writing dates
Want some regular, practical help with these kinds of exercises, tools and tips? The Write Habit online writing club will help you craft your magic wand.
Laura Di Franco, MPT is the owner of Brave Healer Productions and a powerhouse who writes to Feng Shui her soul. She’s a 6-time published poet and author, inspirational speaker, holistic physical therapist and third-degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do with over two decades of experience in healing. She was born to build a revolution of brave healers who are getting their badass, authentic voices published in order to heal the world with their words. Her new book, Brave Healing, a Guide for Your Journey, is now on Amazon! www.BraveHealer.com