Over the years, I have come to realize that there are two kinds of writer’s block. The first kind can cripple writers and prevent them from ever writing again. The second kind is what I usually grapple with. It’s wanting to write, thinking I should be writing, feeling guilty because I’m not writing, and being unable to settle my mind enough to write. Eventually, though, I do end up writing something.
I believe both of these issues blossom from the same soil. The issue begins when we, as writers, believe we are actually doing the writing. We forget about the magnificent creative force that exists in the universe that is always creating nonstop without any assistance from us. We forget that our job is to tap into that creative force and begin to transcribe its ideas. It needs us. It has no other way to manifest its energy except through our creative efforts (and, of course, those of Mother Nature.)
Some call this force their muse. This is an ancient word dating back to the fourteenth century. It is thought of as a goddess or creative power that inspires artists. Mythology credits Zeus and Mnemosyne for birthing nine daughters, each one presiding over a specific art form and providing creative power to the artisans therein. She becomes their muse.
Call it what you may, this creative force is available to everyone and needs only an opening in the mind to do its work. That opening, I believe, exists in the subconscious mind. My job is to open myself to the suggestions and ideas that exist in this subconscious, creative arena. The question then is how to accomplish this feat.
The ways in which this is done are as varied as the seven billion people that inhabit this planet. I walk or clean my house or futz around in my garden. Others may run or hike or daydream. It doesn’t matter how the creative energy is accessed. It only matters that one makes the effort to open oneself to its possibilities.
There is one exercise I would encourage everyone to try. Meditation is a powerful way to open the creative channel. When we meditate we let go of our ego, our preconceived ideas and thoughts and we simply stay quiet and receptive to the moment. I very seldom have inspired thoughts during meditation but what I do have is a few moments of rest from the monkey-mind chatter that goes on in my brain. That quiet time alone provides an opening for subconscious ideas to surface. If I follow meditation with journaling, the ideas begin to flow and I know the muse is with me. Then my only job is to listen with an open mind and transcribe.
I would suggest that every writer, and anyone who feels creatively blocked, give up the idea that you are the one doing the creative work and open your mind (and your heart) to the idea that you are a part of a universal creative force. Meditate on that and watch the magic begin.