Writing out the block
I used to wonder how anyone could get writer’s block, and I never engaged with literature about the topic for fear I might, somehow, catch it — as though by association a psychological trip-switch would be set. And let’s face it, what else is the block but a mind-trap?
In my own experience, blockage began with a combination of events, but a seemingly endless string of rejections reinforced my self-doubt. At the time, I was living self-contained, and isolated, which should have been an ideal creative space — there were ideas, but no flow, no follow through. So I dwelled on it, made this ‘lack’ and sense of hopelessness into something, lent it solidity and weight, credence. Stagnancy was self-enforced: that I had the block became the domiant narrative.
Every writer knows that narratives can be altered. I’m certain many of authors have completely stripped down a text, pared it to its essence and restructured a central plot, or perspective. First, I had to recognise that my narrative needed steered onto more creative tracks. I had to learn to let go in my writing practice and leave behind projects that weren’t going anywhere.
The act of writing through the block, actually sitting down and getting back into the flow, can take time. There’s a lot of silt to trawl through, and you need to be patient and allow it happen, because it will. Things will take form. To push through the block, I needed to allow myself to write what I wanted, not for some percieved target audience. It was an invaluable exercise. Messing with format, tense, voices, it didn’t matter, and neither did the end result — only the process was important. Once I’d written a couple of thousand words without noticing time, plots, subplots, voices — that’s when I felt I was back on track.
I don’t believe that there’s a single, universal strategy for writer’s block, but this worked for me. Other methods could involve travel, research; anything that will spark the mind into action. Once you recognise your own habits, good or bad, make a note of them. This is your formula for punching through the wall.