Writer's Block is a Choice
by Mick Bratton
Writers have a tendency to conjure up the familiar term “writer’s block” as an excuse for not being able to produce content. The spewing of this writerly phenomenon, infamously treated as a common illness, is simply an excuse to not write at all—and it’s probably subconscious. We base our day-to-day lives around the world in which we experience life with our senses—our truths—and so it can be very believable that a blockage has been formed when there’s just a lack of motivation and inspiration. We need any liable subject to blame rather than owning up to our own actions. To blatantly dissect this disillusioned label and pluck it out of the book of excuses: writer’s block is a choice that has made its imprint on the world and has been alive and breathing for far longer than it should have.
Writer and author, Leigh Huggins, focuses on mental health and the capacity of how much it affects our actions. She claims, “Writer’s block is not a brick wall that suddenly sprung up inside our minds. It’s fear.” Huggins continues by suggesting the key to getting past writer’s block is getting curious about one’s emotions, and in order to help combat this ugly barrier, one should “acknowledge that something in [them] needs to avoid writing. Then go find out what it is.” This step takes some digging, but it needs to be done to get down to the bottom line of your internal struggle—and that means facing truths. Going hand-in-hand, Jeff Goins, a best-selling author, speaks about the path writers sign up for. Goins states, “Few professions require the honesty and self-reflection that writing does… writer’s block makes sense… It is a wall between ourselves and the public… The concept of writer’s block has so infiltrated our daily lives that it gets a pass in nearly every creative conversation.” With that being said, writers should feel more compelled to open up to their truth. Not only does pulling the diagnosis card harm a writer and prevent creativity, there won’t be any sympathies coming from external sources.
Goins, like Huggins, claims the first step is to acknowledge the resistance—the blockage—if I may. Goins suggests the following reasons: fear, exhaustion, high standards, imposter syndrome, perfectionism, busyness, laziness, lack of structure. I agree with these aspects, but I will add that such hindrances can also be caused by not having exposure to new territories in one’s life, meaning they’ve gotten stuck in the mud of their own comfort zones. This would make it dismal to have any sort of personal growth.
According to writer and improvisation performer, Jude Treder-Wolff, “Creativity is the energy of change … that human beings can direct toward realizing dreams, growing into more evolved versions of ourselves and flowing with the changes we cannot control.” Being vulnerable to the natural act of change will do wonders. The unknown areas of our lives get filled with fearsome imaginative mishaps while our present day gets filled with comfortably numb experiences, as Pink Floyd put it. Rather, those made-up events are, ironically, the creative mind at work. A writer has to understand that staying in their comfort zone can only cause entrapment, not leaving any room to breathe and expand upon their current beliefs and ideologies. And when they are stuck, rather than choosing the easy way out (the blame game) there needs to be a new technique. That's when creativity comes in! Treder-Wolff compares the human embodiment to that of the universe’s nature by stating, “The relationship between change and the creative force is, perhaps, best understood by looking at nature where change is continuous and unstoppable. For a cell, it is either change or die. A naturally-occurring enzyme within the cell facilitates a series of stages that results in transformation, and the process itself liberates energy.” Essentially, we need to adhere or we will be forced to after a series of resisting against the abundant world around us; this is commonly known as “learning the hard way.” We need to dive into exploring the controversial and the unknown, because that’s when things get exciting; and that’s when art becomes a piece of one’s story!
One must be able to question their faith, come up with theories about who we are and what our purposes may be. The magic comes from digging up ideas and beliefs that were implanted in us when we were growing up. Then, it’s crucial to reflect on what truths resonate with our souls. When we are open to inspiration, the words and ideas will all connect into our current, ever-changing beliefs, helping to make sense of the world and aid in linking the seemingly unconnected. Being open-minded and receptive to good, creative energies takes practice. All it takes is for a shift in perspective.
Kevin Nixon, author and Reiki healer, claims, “Hatred, suspicion, fear, mistrust, jealousy, and prejudice are all examples of dispositions that prevent you from being open to the gifts of existence. There is a popular saying that warns us against blocking our blessings; in fact, the saying is ‘don't block your blessings.’" Again, this blockage mirrors the illusion of writer’s block. He continues, “Your creativity activates the moment you become receptive (open) to all of existence and thus all of its possibilities. It is your receptiveness that gives life the opportunity to expand itself; and for this opportunity, life rewards you by inspiring you and infusing you with creativity. Not only are you inspired, but life will also open doors through which your newly discovered creativity can be expressed.” The internal struggle shouldn’t be so adhered to a lack of content, the focus should gravitate more towards incorporating creativity to express your inner-self. Ever since I eased the pressure caused by judging myself, I have begun to soak up the world—and that’s when opportunities soared in. I’ve never created so blissfully and therapeutically!
One way to combat this blockade of fear is to understand all layers of ourselves. Yes, that includes the dull and the painful. We need to do this without bullying our minds or our ideas. We have to shut down the inner-critic who has taught us how to be and how not to be. Some artists slug through the development process because the possibility of imperfection is very much real. Our inner voice comes out in these times of trial, nudging us to the belief that we aren’t good enough. But we do have such power. Our creativity doesn’t deserve to be pent up with our chaotic ideas and unorganized thoughts against its will. We have to give ourselves permission to release our oppressions, daily encounters, and open ourselves up to being receptive, artistic beings. The process has to be in accord with what aligns with our hearts or else all of our creative attempts will be the death of us. Behind the false image of perfectionism, I’ve understood that it’s common to repeat certain phrases and descriptions throughout my work. The repetition of word choice can mean our personalities tend to bleed through to our expressions, therefore creating some sort of recognizable framework—and that’s a good thing!
After unleashing the damned up madness called thoughts, they become the archives revealing our progression or regression, our evolvement or devolvement. I once feared putting anything down on paper. I knew that in the future I’d look back and wish I didn’t put out something so imperfect. After realizing I’d never actually produce or advance in the art, I found that my old works, and hardcore representing past beliefs, can be recycled. Isn’t that a part of being a true artist? Or a human-being, for the matter? Admitting our fragile truths and honoring our shifted perceptions is an act of humility that could only help us be our best selves and create new content based off of our old. There is much less pressure on the decision process of What should I write? when one drops their ego.
Writing doesn’t have to be glorious the first time it’s expelled. It should be taken into consideration that there’s different kinds of writing:
Getting immersed in your world is where creativity is born. All experiences get stored in this library so when it’s time to write—nonfiction or fiction—there’s a bunch of ideas lined up. Absorbing my existence, questioning what it means to be human, dissecting my fragility, and dancing with my spirituality and digesting it all, I came to the realization that life imitates art and vice-versa. Everything is connected and that’s the hidden beauty those with creative blockages are suffering with. This discovery is based on a quote by Oscar Wilde: “life imitates art far more than art imitates life.” Gathering from Wilde’s insight in “The Decay of Lying,” I found half of the truth, “things are because we see them, and what we see, and how we see it, depends on the arts that have influenced us.” Art, and our surroundings, help to shape our internal perception of the universe and adds an underlying passion.
After shifting around perspective and letting go of the old-self, you’ll watch your soul speak through words you never thought were imaginable. One day, you’ll even forget there was ever such a term called writer’s block.
Taylor Nicholas Forte
4/1/2020 01:27:41 am
What an awesome article You got me all inspired!
4/1/2020 01:37:13 pm
Exactly what I’ve needed to hear lately. Amazing read!
4/3/2020 01:32:43 pm
Deliciously inspirational! Feel like it’s time for me to pick up a pen again...
Leave a Reply.
glassworks is a publication of
Rowan University's Master of Arts in Writing
260 Victoria Street • Glassboro, New Jersey 08028
All Content on this Site (c) 2023 glassworks