Unlocking Writer’s Block

Last night, I attended a live webinar called ‘Make Peace with Your Writing’, which focused on the emotional writing blocks we place on ourselves. The webinar was delivered by Amna Ahmed (www.pragmatichybrid.com) and hosted by Andrea Schroeder (www.creativemagicacademy.com). It was an interesting and motivating session.

It couldn’t have come at a better time as I’ve been struggling to get the writing momentum going with my own novel. I actually managed to write 500 words before the session, so hopefully I’ve snapped myself out of the stagnent state I was falling into.

A lot of the ideas I had heard before but, as with all simple and logical solutions, it is their application that’s the hard part. It seemed to me that the simple bringing together of over 150 writers via the webinar (we chatted on the Facebook page) created an inspiring atmosphere. It was comforting to break through the feeling of isolation that comes with creative doubt and realise that so many others are in the same boat. It hit home the first point of the session, which was:

All creatives feel fear.

Much of our fear stems from our worry that we won’t be able to consistently create, won’t be able to follow the routines and rituals we place on ourselves, and won’t be able to achive the level of greatness that we desire.

Amna’s solution to this was to…

Know your limits.

Which, at first, seemed a hindering idea to me – as if lowering your expectations of yourself is the solution. But this is not what this means. It means you must give yourself permission to be human and overcome the desire for perfectionism that keeps blocks in place; it means not having unrealistic expectations of your methods and mindset. Allow yourself to feel your fear, but know that…

Fear means we are doing something courageous.

I love this idea. However, I sometimes think: Why is this so hard for me when others find it so easy? Thoughts like that make me doubt myself as a ‘real’ writer. Though when I think about it objectively, I understand that we all experience the world differently.

The idea that if we are experience creative block, deep down we don’t want to be a creative… is a myth!

Many people will tell you that if you aren’t doing something you think you want to be doing, then maybe you really don’t want to do it. Amna theorised that this simply isn’t true. There are many things that hold us back from our creativity. It is possible that deep down you don’t want to be doing it, but there are many other emotional factors that stand between our creative desires and our creative output. The key is recognising these blocks, accepting that they are there, and figuring out a way round them.

Don’t wait for inspiration to strike.

This is a very common piece of advice for tackling creative block. It’s the ‘butt-in-chair’ method. More eloquently expressed by the philosophical expression from Parmenides: ‘Nothing comes from nothing.’ You can’t shape something until you have something to shape. You need to get the words down on the page before you can mold them into something great. Inspiration can come later.

Another fear, expressed by some writers in the discussion, was that the marketplace was so overcrowded that there would not be enough room for them to make a living from their writing or art. There was some discussion around not focusing on the market, and simply focussing on your art for the love. That the market might taint your art, or that the market would follow your art… I’m not sure about that, but I’m sure about one thing:

There is NO SHAME in wanting to make a living from your art.

Getting the comercial and artistic balance act to work for you is very tricky, but it can be done. After all, who doesn’t want to make a living from doing what they love? To address the initial fear that there is no room in the marketplace to do this…

The world isn’t a pie. (Mmm… pie.)

There are abundant resources available for everyone. If one person gets something, it doesn’t detract from anyone else’s potential for success. If anything, you are expanding the pie, not eating into it! ‘Good’ to one person is different to another. So there is potential for people to find their tribes, as long as they have good quality writing and/or a resonant idea to begin with.

These are the main ideas I took away from the session and the discussion. All very useful points to keep in mind, I think.

Tell me, how do you deal with creative block?

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2 thoughts on “Unlocking Writer’s Block

  1. Thank you for sharing this…. A perfect and concise summary :) one point I also liked was ‘the quality is not my responsibility.. My responsibility is to show up and do the work’ !

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