Blocked? There’s a Way Out

Encouragement For the Conscious Writer

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Writer’s block’ is an emotional or logical incoherence in a future work slowly working its way through our unconscious. — Alain de Botton

So you’ve hit it, the emotional block. It grows. That block grows and grows until you’ve spent the day avoiding the one thing you love doing. It then turns into doubt and fear and all sorts of negative thoughts. So you shift your focus some more. It can turn into a vicious cycle gnashing at the little bit of confidence you have left.

I’m here to shed some light.

What is a writer’s block? More importantly what is a writer’s block for conscious writers?

Well, let’s start by discussing the fact that you are an amazing writer and you having a block does not make you any less or any more of a writer. It makes you a healthy functioning human being. If you’ve written to the point of a writer’s block, you are doing a phenomenal job. You have gotten past the hardest part and that’s being consistent enough to reach a block. On top of that, you are reading a post about how to unblock that block, which means, you are actively seeking to fix the problem instead of just walking away when it got hard. This is progress. This is maturity. Seriously. You are doing a great job. Do not let negative thoughts make you think for one second that you are not cut out for this, because let me tell you, if there’s anything you’re good at, it’s this.

So what is writer’s block?

It isn’t just a part of the story you can’t figure out. It is a psychological barrier that is holding you back. Before you can work on the block you’ve get to get yourself back into that creative space. Some things that help me step back into my creative space are to:

walk
talk it out
put away the story
edit parts I’m not stuck on
do something else creative
focus on something else I’m interested in like research, empowering friends, or whatever else will take my mind off of it.
write an unrelated poem or short story

These things really loosen up my brain space from tension. Once you get relaxed you can return to the writing space.

When you get back to that space it doesn’t mean the block is gone. It means you’re ready to figure out why it’s there so you can continue. Is the block emotional? Is something in this scene or idea triggering you? It seems at surface value that you’re fresh out of ideas but this isn’t true because you are an idea machine. You are made of amazing ideas sparked by infinite creativity.

How to get to the block.

Look at what you’re adding to your story. Is it something directly related to your life? Is there something you feel limited from in your life. If it is, how can you change your perception to use what’s limiting you in a positive way?

Another way I’ve learned to look at a block is what’s going on outside of my writing. Am I exhausted? Have I been pushing yourself too hard? Am I getting too comfortable or eating too much junk. Now, don’t let your head spin from all these questions. These are good questions to ask regularly whether you have a writers block or not.

When I first started writing, I’d walk away and say I can’t write or I don’t know what to write. I’d have all sorts of writers block excuses but the truth was I was frustrated about something else. The longer I tried to ignore it, the longer I couldn’t write. So when I was ready to face the reason why I couldn’t write, things would begin to fall back into place.

Even if you’re not going through the dreaded writer’s block, these questions will help you learn who you are.

Keep Writing. You got this.

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Not Your Worries

For the Conscious Writer

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You’re going to the edge and leaping over it. No one is going to understand that and don’t expect anyone to. Not even the few that have known you and understood you you’re entire life. Conscious writing leads you to new horizons. Conscious writing is going to take you to places you want and then it’s going to show you the places where you need to go. These are often two different things. But first, know that people are going to place their own fears and insecurities on you. They are going to make you question things you didn’t even think of doubting the minute you made this commitment. Just know, deep down in that beautiful soul of yours that those are not your worries to carry.

I’m excited to share this piece of mine published by An Idea (By Ingenious Piece) on Medium Read more here

Dear Author

A letter from your characters

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Dear author,

I am a living breathing human being. I’m not your show horse! I need thoughts and some external stimulation. I need you to give me something to solve or avoid solving by solving something else until I realize the true importance of what I was supposed to be solving. Those ah ha moments, I like those. When all the different things finally come together to make a bigger picture, it feels good. I’m not here to stroke your ego. I’m not here to gain you awards. I’m here to be like you in ways you don’t quite understand until you write in order to understand me better. Don’t change me simply because I point out your flaws. I heard Toni Morrison say the slave was important to the white man because it defined his freeness. So I ask that you don’t take away my freeness in order to know you are free. You are free to write me in worlds with clothes and people and situations and thoughts as you choose. You are in control of my story. You are in control of my ending. So let me be entirely myself. Let me be who I become in the unfolding of this particular story. Don’t just develop my thoughts, give me some way to share them. Don’t give me everything I could ever imagine with no internal dialogue. I want to think and to grow and to develop new perspectives. Don’t tell me why I’m here, give me reasons to be here.

Sincerely,

Your Character

Sources

Toni Morrison From Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the literary Imagination in the Critical Tradition pg 1791

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Can literature Act as a Preparation for Inexperience?

Literature Theory

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Spoiler Alert Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White

I vividly remember when I finished reading Charlotte’s Web in fourth grade. I cried when Charlotte died. Her loss left me in a strange place where I was contemplating death for days. I also remember the day my grandmother died. These two experiences are not the same. The loss of Charlotte did not prepare me for the loss of my grandmother. There is no book that can prepare you for some life experiences.

Literature supports in experiences we are going through or have gone through. When I thought of death without the real life experience of losing someone, the understanding felt distant. It was something foreign to me that I wanted to grasp without gaining it through my own experience. I was left with a world full of uncertainty and hugged my mom a little tighter after reading it.

Trying to prepare someone for a new experience is like describing what an orange tastes like to someone who’s never tasted an orange. We can explain how to eat it and that the peel isn’t the good part. We can even tell them the juicy fruity part is on the inside, but we can’t tell them if they will enjoy it or how much they will enjoy it. They may even find a different way to eat it than we taught them. That’s how I feel about literature. It can explain what to do and give some insight on how to do it, but an individual can not be prepared for how they will feel in new experiences using literature.

I do believe seeing how characters react to an experience can suggest the right thing to do and it may even give some insight on how someone else is feeling. I don’t think literature can prepare us for how we will feel going through our own life experiences. I do feel it can help readers learn to use understanding and empathy toward someone else’s experience by seeing the world from another characters point of view.

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Unchecked Passion and Your Characters

“it wasn’t what I was resentful about that I needed to let go of but what I was passionate about.”

For the Conscious Writer

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“There is no passion to be found playing small — in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” Nelson Mandela

Passionate characters can drive the story forward. Passion can drive us as writers forward and make us do things we never thought possible. In my last post Resentment and Passion, I explained that in order to help me let go of resentment, I had to change my perspective. (You can read more about it here.) What I figured out from changing my perspective is that it wasn’t what I was resentful about that I needed to let go of but what I was passionate about.

So, let’s talk about passion.

I said in that post I was passionate about mothering my children. It’s something I hold dear to my heart. The passion I have for mothering comes with intentionally investing in the relationship I have with my children. It comes with creating moments for them to engage in self-discipline and self-discovery. It comes with snuggles, tears, hugs, frustration and so much more.

So, when writing a passionate character these are the actions and emotions you want your character to engage in. But we can’t stop there. This is just a character with their passions in check.

A character with unchecked passion ultimately turns into a villain. One of my most favorite characters with unchecked passion is King Pin from the Marvel comic books. Creating a great character with unbridled passion should start with a checked passion that grows out of control. I think we can relate to those characters better. Which helps us to better understand the bad in this world.

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Unbridled passion is often brushed off and claimed as just mindless evil but that’s just not enough for us conscious writers. We need to understand. The answer to some of the most misunderstood villains is passion.

“If passion drives you, let reason hold the reins.” -Benjamin Franklin

How can we keep a character’s passion in check?

Take who or what they’re passionate about away, you might think.

Ah, but this is where you must know your character. Is your character mature enough to grow from that loss or will removing that passion will bring them into villainy?

The best way to round your character with a passion in check is to mature the character in other areas of their life. Give them a sense of something outside of their passion.

When a character loses something, they were passionate about and doesn’t have the maturity in other areas of their life, they should plummet into an existential crisis because they don’t have any other thing driving them forward. (Besides what you throw at them.)

As conscious writers, we should take note of that. If we want to be well-rounded writers, we must keep our passions in check. We should rule our passions, not let our passions rule us.

Some ways we, as real living humans, can keep our passions in check.

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Have hobbies outside of what we’re passionate about

Have healthy relationships with peers and family

Work to live don’t live to work or Write to live don’t live to write

Self-love

Understand that without your gifts and talents you are enough

Create things perfect, imperfect, doesn’t matter just create things

Invest in your physical health

Focus on growth and forward movement

Having passion is a good thing and a great tool. I think we should all invest in our passions. It might rule from time to time, but like Ben Franklin said, allow reason to reel you back in.

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Sources

https://www.inc.com/dave-kerpen/15-quotes-on-passion-to-inspire-a-better-life.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kingpin_%28character%29

Rest Rest Rest

For the Conscious Writer

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The work is always going to be there, you will not. It’s so easy in today’s world to get caught up in the over ambitious lifestyle. Work work work till you drop. I think discipline and hard work are both important things but not to the point that they become oppressive. Writing should add to your growth. It can bring you tears. It can bring you frustration especially when you’re dealing with internal conflict, but it shouldn’t oppress you.

In this world oppression is normal and being a slave to our thoughts and feelings is normal. As conscious writers, we are gifted the luxury of standing up for ourselves and confronting our true thoughts and feelings rather than ignoring them.

There are forms of oppression and domination which become invisible — the new normal. -Michel Foucault

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When writing becomes the bad guy, it’s time to step back and change your mindset. Remember why you write. Find another way to write. Find another way to tackle the problem. Just don’t let the act of conscious writing become your villain.

You don’t start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it’s good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it.
That’s why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence.
― 
Octavia E. Butler

Writing can feel daunting. I have been feeling the weight of editing this past week. There were some tears and frustration. I wasn’t ready to quit, but I was beginning to doubt myself as a writer. There’s no room for doubt in writing. I reminded myself, I am where I am from hard work and determination. I had that mindset before I started writing, and I’ll have it till I die because it’s in my blood. Knowing this gave me no other option than to look for another way to tackle the problem. But that meant, I had to wait it out. I had to wait and trust my inner writer and let me tell you, that wasn’t easy. For me, waiting at a red light is fine. I don’t even mind bad traffic as long as I’ll still be on time, but waiting on my inner writer while I have bills to pay, that is tough stuff. I still tackled the novel. I still edited and reread the story to stay connected. Then I walked around the house, talked to myself, and finally realized half of my work had to be deleted. Which is good. Now I have solid ground to build from.

So, what does all this mean? You have to trust that your story will find a place in this world. Allow these moments of waiting to be moments of rest. Drink your go-to beverage and enjoy the journey. This writing job is the place where you should not be turned into a robot. Writing is a place where you let it all hang out in its own natural and restful glory.

Stay strong writers. We’re going to finish these stories.

Every person needs to take one day away. A day in which one consciously separates the past from the future. Jobs, family, employers, and friends can exist one day without any one of us, and if our egos permit us to confess, they could exist eternally in our absence. Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for. Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us.”
― 
Maya Angelou, Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now

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Stepping Out of Your Story and Embracing the Powerlessness of Someone Else’s

For the Conscious Writer

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The great thing about writing you’re own stories is that we have a good idea about what is going to happen. What can be interesting is when we have to leave our stories and gain that sense of powerlessness when we enter into someone else’s story

There’s two aspects to this, one is when we actually engage in someone else’s art. We give our sense of control over to the creator. It’s a mutual agreement between creator and viewer. This aspect provides more of an escape. It’s letting someone else take the wheel of perspective for a moment. It’s liberating and entertaining.

Then the other aspect is in reality when we have to accept that others might make choices we don’t agree with. This isn’t always a mutual agreement. Sometimes the repercussion for some else’s actions are thrust upon you, and there’s nothing you can do about them. The thing you can control is your own thoughts and actions.

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We can’t ever be completely powerless while we are alive and conscious. We can think. We can strategize. We can chose to stay completely unaffected or lash out. We could even think up entirely new situations in our heads and prefer to engage with those ones over reality. We have options. Some choices are better than others but we have them.

The great thing about learning to accept powerlessness as a conscious writer is you get to see things from a different perspective than your own. You can use these moments as tools to understand why someone would do something you can’t imagine yourself doing. Good and bad situations. It’s great practice for character building

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Which leads to, the next thought. Learning to take note of how you feel in moments of powerlessness. Try to stay aware of how you’re feeling when someone’s consequences are thrust on you. This can be a profound experience when you listen and question the thoughts racing through your mind. This is where the great characters live.

Honesty is not found in revealing the truth, but in understanding how deeply afraid of it we are. To become honest is in effect to become fully and robustly incarnated into powerlessness.

David Whyte

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A Letter to My Characters

For the Conscious Writer

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Dear Characters,

I’m am here. I will always be here forever and always. I will learn and know each and every part of you and help you bloom into the person that you were always meant to be. No matter what choice you make, no matter how many times you fail, I will be near you. Some choices or things you do, may disappoint me or make me cry. They may make me proud and brighten up my day. Either way, I’ll still need your existence. I’ll still seek you out.

I know your past. I know your thoughts. I know your true purpose. Who you’re going to be isn’t set in stone, until you show me with your actions. The calculated ones, the impulsive ones, the mindless ones. They define you, they take you to who you’re going to be. Show me who you are. Show me with your actions what is in your heart and that’ll make sure you become who you’re destined to be. That will make sure you meet yourself exactly where you’re meant to be.

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It doesn’t matter how strong you are, or how smart, or what gifts and talents you were given. All that matters, is when I throw you into a situation, that you be authentically you. I do hope you learn that these situations are molding you into the person you were destined to be, but hear me out, you can act like the person who you want to become. The trick is to be that person in detail. Now, when I say the person you want to become, I mean you aren’t stuck in your flawed or limited behaviors. I mean, if you want to be a writer, then you must be writing. Be writing when the dragons and fairies and handsome princes come barging into your door. I say this because regardless of your true purpose and of your past, and of your thoughts, if you were writing in the darkest and brightest moments of your existence, what are you then, other than a writer in the midst of living.

And if there is ever a moment you feel you are without purpose, I can promise you, you were not brought into existence without purpose. Not for one moment.

With so much love and gratitude,

your creator

P.S. I can’t explain all the bad things that happen in my own world, but I can give you life that’s worth living. Realize that your life is a gift to me.

Right Now is Important

For the Conscious Writer

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“The ability to be in the present moment is a major component of mental wellness.” — Abraham Maslow

We get wrapped up. At least I do. The story eats away at me. I forget what it feels like to just be in reality for a few hours. I obsess my characters and the words and the genre. I could spend hours editing my book and not even notice I’m still editing when I put my computer away.

They say stay drunk on writing, and that’s a fabulous idea when you have the lifestyle to do so. So I have to make time when I’m present in my house in all aspects, not just in body. I need to have my mind right here next to me, in the present.

“Always hold fast to the present. Every situation, indeed every moment, is of infinite value, for it is the representative of a whole eternity.” — Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

I am overwhelmed from editing. I am frustrated with my lack of solitude, right now. So I spent a couple hours today being present. Not being focused on my book. Not planning things to do for it or my writing. I just floated around the house laughing with my family, playing on my phone, and thinking about Hannibal. I even took one of those long showers. Yup, my skin’s silky smooth right now. (Stay at home mama’s you know what I’m talking about).

So, as Conscious writers I think it’s important to be intentional about being present outside of your writing. It’s great to jot down ideas when they come but enjoy your life. I read something saying that we write to live not the other way around. Your writing should accentuate your life, not drag it down. Enjoy your family. Enjoy other creative’s works. It’s ok

We get the guilt. Like, if we’re not writing or thinking about writing, we’re not working hard enough. I think the “you should be writing” memes are funny. I laugh and I share them because we do get haunted by our work. We do get overwhelmed by our need to finish. A little anxiety to get a job done is important, but it shouldn’t deprive you from being fully present when you’re not writing. At least not to the point of guilt and shame.

If you are writing and/or editing everyday you are investing. If you’re writing when the house is asleep, that’s huge. Seriously. Allow yourself the freedom to be fully immersed in your day so you can come back to your writing with fresh eyes and a full heart.

“Be happy in the moment, that’s enough. Each moment is all we need, not more.” — Mother Teresa

Get Out Into the Storm

For the Conscious Writer

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You know those snow storms when it’s freezing cold and there’s so much snow it’s literally coming out of your ears. Yes, those. Ok so now let’s say you’re finally dry and warm again all snuggied up in your car. Then you pull into your driveway, and all you’ve wanted is to be inside your home. But then you realize stepping out of the car means stepping into the freezing cold snow storm. That’s what you have to do with your writing.

You’ve got to brave the storm. It’s not so much about being fearless. It’s more about accepting a temporary amount of discomfort to get you to your goal destination.

We’ve all had those days where we curl up on the couch and zone out for as long as humanly possible. Those are nice days. Some of us can sit longer than others, either way the point still stands, it’s comfortable. It’s nice to be unbothered by things. But this isn’t the garden of Eden. You’ve got to get out there and work the ground and pop out some book babies.

Learning to embrace the storm is learning to embrace the life handed to you.

I’m not sure what makes you uncomfortable and truth is you haven’t experienced all the things that make you uncomfortable yet. You may find that you’re more comfortable in a certain scenario than you thought would be. You may find you are extremely uncomfortable but the consequence for enduring that discomfort is a positive one.

So let’s just say you’re writing right now, ask yourself are you in your warm and comfortable car? Are you staying too safe? Too comfy, cozy, and dry? Just think, what’s on the other side of the discomfort you feel right now? Pajamas and fuzzy bunny slippers? Your favorite Tyler Durden inspired robe? Don’t delay the inevitable. Step outside your comfort zone and freeze your tush off.

“To reach only for that which pleasantly enchants you is the least of imagination, if even imagination at all, by the obvious reality of remaining within your means. The greater of imagination is parallel to risk. It extends beyond your comfort zone or haven, or sense of beauty, or what you personally believe suits you in exploration of what may not.”
― 
Criss Jami, Killosophy

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