Yesterday in my writer’s group, we did an exercise about writer’s block. We had all mentioned it – the teenagers, the middle-aged and the oldest among us. It is no discriminator of persons; it hit us all. It is our nemesis.
First, our leader had us take 1 minute and write a few poems, just to get our feelings out there. The formula was: Writers block is ___, writer’s block is ___, writer’s block is ___, ___, and ___.
I thought it was a great idea to sort of define it, put it in a box so to speak. I wrote:
Writer’s block is painful
Writer’s block is constricting
Writer’s block is tight, choking, and suffocating like a too-tight necktie.
Writer’s block is apathy
Writer’s block is cold
Writer’s block is defeating, death and decay.
A little morbid, I’ll admit. But it’s interesting how images jumped to my mind first, not words. None of these poems are fabulous. They’re strictly off-the-cuff, spontaneous expressions. We went around the table and everyone shared. Some were funny. Some were spooky. Some oozed frustration.
Then our leader asked us to write about the opposite of writer’s block, whatever that word is for you. Her word was feathers. Okay. I should mention hers were much cooler. They even rhymed! My word was freedom. I wrote:
Freedom is flying
Freedom is running
Freedom is fresh air, birds and wings.
Freedom is clarity
Freedom is understanding
Freedom is baby steps, one foot, next foot and on.
Freedom is blue skies
Freedom is no obstacles
Freedom is no fear, no critic and complete creative control.
Freedom is jumping
Freedom is no net
Freedom is no gravity, no pull and soaring.
We shared those, too. Another gal in the group chose freedom as her antithesis for writer’s block, too. Our poems reflected our personal ideas of that feeling of what it’s like to write with abandon.
Lastly, the leader asked us to substitute “writer’s block” for our antithesis. So my freedom poems became writer’s block poems.
Writer’s block is flying
Writer’s block is running
Writer’s block is fresh air, birds and wings.
Huh. Somehow, I didn’t like that one so much. Didn’t ring true for me. I *never* feel like I’m flying when I’m stumped for ideas.
The point she was trying to make is that defeating writer’s block is within us. Writer’s block happens, she said, when our left brain, the analytical, organizational, rational side of us – tries to take over. So, she said we needed to turn it off. It’s all in how we think. I remember having to do this when I started to learn to play flute by ear. You simply can’t overthink your playing. You must feel and hear the music, and let it go. Relax into it.
As someone who has made her living using the left side of her brain, it was a novel concept. Yet, it made perfect sense. I have not believed I could create something new; I wasn’t brave enough to try. I have not allowed myself to dream, to create in spontaneous ways. My daughter does. My son does, through his video games. He’s always coming up with new ways to do things and new inventions. Early on, I imbibed the idea that one must have a profession that pays bills. Music wouldn’t. Writing wouldn’t either. But I’m not in that position anymore. And, since I belong to the Ultimate Creator, all that creativity is mine to use.
I can have some freedom.
I told the group I understood this. It is a revelation to me. We need to let ourselves play. I have been a grownup way too long.
She actually said, “Writer’s block is your own myth.”
Well, I’m in the myth-busting business now. It’s on.