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  • Writer's pictureJamie Sims Coakley

Fear of Being "Blocked"

Writer’s Block. You know what I am talking about, right? That horrible feeling of sitting down to write (or create anything really) and nothing comes. You don’t know where to start, or you start and stop several times, each beginning feeling somehow “wrong.”

I don’t really believe in “writers block” even though I have experienced it quite often and the feeling of being blocked has the potential to be incredibly frustrating. But are we actually blocked or just impatient? Let me explain—yesterday I sat down to write a blog for you guys and I immediately hit block after block until (after employing several of my patented techniques) I realized what I was writing wasn’t a blog at all, but rather the beginning of a book of short stories I have been developing! No wonder it didn’t feel right! It wasn’t a blog post at all. Once I figured it out, THIS blog flowed effortlessly from my fingers!

For me, being “blocked” springs from an unrealistic expectation that creation/inspiration should come easy and that the path we start down is clearly marked. Sometimes things take time to warm up, like an old time combustible car engine in the cold. Sometimes, we start off down the wrong path and have to double back, but we are not blocked, per se; we are just headed in the wrong direction, so the path is more difficult.

Often I will sit down to write something and it starts and stops in fits. There is no “flow.” I could get frustrated, but for some reason, I recognize this as process. Our creative selves are experiencing and feeling things on different levels than our “everyday” selves, and so we compartmentalize them, put them away for a bit and then bring them out when we have time/space to allow them to breathe. Part of that necessity means that some times we have to warm up first. We have to be patient and we have to listen and trust our creative selves. Some of the tools I have learned to incorporate into the creative process when “blocked” are:

  1. Listen to music that I love

  2. Read a few pages or chapters of a classic!

  3. Take a hot bath with candles and a cup of good tea.

  4. Go for a walk.

  5. Hemingway said “Always stop while you are going good and don't think about it or worry about it until you start to write the next day.” (I have found this to be extremely good advice.)

The point is, do something that relaxes and inspires other than starring at a blank page, cursing yourself for being terrible at everything. A “block” isn’t a forever thing, it isn’t a bad thing, it is part of the process and often, much like a “road closed” sign, it’s an obstacle your muse throws up when you are headed in the wrong direction. Understanding blocks and then meeting them with understanding, acceptance and awareness, allows you to work with them, around them, and through them to find and manifest the story (regardless of medium) you are meant to tell in each moment.

So I encourage you, the next time you sit down to create and feel you are blocked, remember…you haven’t reached a dead end, you have merely taken and wrong turn and your muse is trying to guide you back to your higher story. Pause, seek things that inspire you, relax and listen to your muse. The path forward will be made clear soon enough and it will be magic when you find it. Don’t plow through a block—use it to elevate your work!

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