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How to Write Freely and without Fear of the dreaded Writer’s Block

There is a lot of advice written about writing. Often this advice is directed at beginner writers who feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of sitting down to write a novel, or a long story.
Some beginner writers go for the short story and believe that it will be an easy task,the thought that to start writing a few things about an event will be enough to get the mind rolling, and cause the whole thing to begin to develop naturally.

Good Advice

Good advice tells you that short story writing is a good place to start — but don’t believe it to be an easy job to tell a tightly wound tale of love and war, and please all your readers.

Most successful writers find that knowing who they are writing a story for helps them get the job done.

To write for yourself, or to choose a person you can relate to and write a story for them alone, can help you to focus the story towards a certain type of reader. There are lots of readers out there who resemble the single persona you have in mind.

The Power of Focus

Short story writers tend to be faced with as much confusion as the novelist, writing a short story and making it work can be a difficult task. A short story requires mental focus, and as much endurance as a longer yarn does.

A long story requires staying power, being able to keep track of a character’s journey and the interactions of other characters. It means that you can’t let up on the whole thing and take a break without having to deal with a gaping hole in your thoughts when you sit back down at the keyboard.

Writer’s Block and You

The blanked out mind, lack of ideas, and the feeling that you’ve totally lost the plot, begs to be summed up as the infamous “writer’s block”.

Writer’s block is difficult to describe. It’s all about a person’s emotional feelings, their slowed down state of mind, and often accompanied by a solid dose of sluggishness that feels like you are carrying a sack of bricks around.

When people turn to their fellow writers to ask for helpful hints on how to overcome writer’s block, their questions can be so ambiguous that it’s hard to answer in a useful way.

I believe the problem of writer’s block is often a conscious one. The writer, by nature, should allow the unconscious mind to work freely . When we write a story, a paragraph or even a letter, our mind is bubbling with good ideas most of the time. This is when things are going well and we feel like we are happy and relaxed,with nothing to complain about.

In the mental state of observing the function and workings of the thing, we are no longer focused on the object that we are creating. Just that alone will cause a blockage in the works.

It’s like a balancing act, except it’s not hard to do, and it’s not full of fear, either. It is pleasantly scary.

That’s why we love writing, something about the mind making powerful connections between ideas and threading them together to build a tapestry of colours that will one day bring happiness, thrills, and insight to other people, is a deeply meaningful experience.

The moment a writer stops and ponders the work and thinks about how it’s going so far, the mind will drift towards other states. The conscious mind will take precedence and offer up all types of ideas which have no connection with writing a story.

A well oiled writing mind is only good so long as it is running along at 3500 revs per minute, a nice speed for a smoothly operating motor.

I find when I write well, I know it. I have a good feeling about the process, the work is waxing, the keyboards have a pleasant rhythm, and my mind is bubbling away like a cooking pot with the lid removed. It’s always quite amazing to experience it, and the trick is to stay with it, and not allow the feelings of amazement to draw your attention away to the periphery of things, just so you can take a better look at this amazing mental machine that works so well. That would ruin it. It’s that simple.

Writer’s block is when you have removed yourself from the working process. Your mind and its process becomes the focus of attention. The powerful flow that you built up during and the sit and write it period, turns it powers onto its environment, which for some reason looked interesting to you for a fleeting moment.

This focusing on the wrong thing can last days or months for some people. We often find our minds wander off when we are tired, or burned out.

Burn out isn’t depression, it’s more like an over staid mind, a boredom has set in where before there was enthusiasm and determination.

Writer’s block is basically a form of burn out, or a very tired mind. There is no such medical condition known as “writer’s block”.

Next time you visit the supermarket, or a place where people have to work at the same repetitive activity, you will see some of the workers suffering from “writer’s block”, they will call it something else like, “pissed off with the same old, again and again.”

And nobody is going to understand their situation and give them a break until it’s time for an allotted vacation.

Prowess and Performance of an Athlete

Athletes experience ‘peaking times’. Hard workouts in training, pushing to the limits, demanding everything from the muscles and mind, leads to the experience that feels like a ‘flatness’ during training, it’s as if nothing is happening regardless of the intensity of their workout. It’s during this time that overwhelming emotions of confusion and pointlessness in the activity kick in.

Athletes are always looking for ways to shorten these periods of time that seem like wasted and directionless training periods by changing their approach to training.

Writers experience similar feelings during periods of writer’s block. Like athletes, who often have to meet a deadline to compete, a writer should become aware that their problem is common amongst high performing people.

The mind has to work in mysterious ways when writing a story, performing a task where so many different aspects have to be remembered and applied to your writing. But without the ability to focus on the task, forget the day and allow yourself to become lost in the work, the whole thing can feel like pulling teeth most of the time.

Experiencing writer’s block can be confusing, and that’s half the problem, the mind is your tool. If the very tool we use in writing is unsharp and it’s blade feels chipped and broken, we will naturally believe that we have to find another tool. Unfortunately, there isn’t another tool.

That one thing, focus, concentration, being in the zone, or flow, call it what you may, is the necessary tool when writing.

Without focus a writer is in danger of losing the thread that led them there in the first place. Writers who become blocked by an unknown force, which often feels like a gate in mind just closed and now refuses to open, have fallen into a trap that is experienced by a lot of writers.

Lost Motivations

Motivations versus distractions seem to be the forethought of the day, wondering what happened to your will power, or your desire to write, the very thought of sitting down and writing becomes like a distant memory, or an impossible thing to do.

Focus will pull a writer out of the mire like a horse dragging a bogged down jeep out of the mud. It starts with spinning wheels and shit spraying all over the trees, a mess that seems pointless, but then those wheels gain a little traction and the vehicle bounces forward and meets the road once again.

The Trick of getting back in the Writer’s Seat

The only way to get traction is to try and make the wheels of writing get grip on the road. That means, as always, sit back down and start to write. That’s where the road begins again. But do it without the apprehension of shame that creating a shit-storm of words could embarrass our demanding mind.

Not allowing the feelings of negativity to enter into the situation with fears of incompetence — every writer feels incompetent, some writers can only discover that they are incompetent and thankfully, for them, quit the gig to get on with something that suits them much better.

Other writers push on and discover that determination and persistence brings out the competence they really possess.

Think of writer’s block, if you experience it, as a place that you accidently walked into, on realising this do your best to calmly open another door and exit, and get back to writing.

When we allow those feelings like imaginary ideas of incompetence, not up to the task feelings, all of them based on fear, to enter the mind and destroy focus, we begin to believe that we are the wrong person to be a writer.

Here is a fact that has been proved again and again in life, persistence and concentration will ensures that you discover how great your writing really is. Those two mental qualities are the mainstay of working, and they encourage determination, positive “can-do” attitude and a calm methodical approach to finishing the novel or story that you are working on.

The writer should already have taught themselves that having faith in their own ability to concentrate on the work and push aside fears — that are always unfounded — will bring them back to the seat of focused attention that ensures that their mind will work with flow, the mind will then work with the ability to trust the unconscious mind to express ideas freely.

Written by

Berlin Notes — Writing about the Creative Art of Living

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