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Having written for eons, I don’t believe in writer’s block. As I often tell students: if you feel blocked it’s because you’re not writing, period. Sometimes perfectionism is the problem. Sometimes confidence is the issue. You see? It’s not about the writing itself. Herewith, 25 ways to help you leap past the fear of writing badly.
Advice for Beating Writer’s Block
- 1. Write for 30 minutes every day, no matter what.
- 2. Write by hand and keep the pen moving.
- 3. Make writing a sacred ritual, like candle-lit full moon bubble baths.
- 4. Visualized your ideal reader and know that she’s hungry for what you have to say.
- 5. Think of your writing time as playtime in your favorite sandbox.
- 6. Relax. They’re only words on a page, not a life-threatening condition.
- 7. Your writing may take you to places you can’t predict, so let go of expectations.
- 8. Sometimes writing is easy. Sometimes it’s hard. Forgive yourself for being human.
- 9. Reward yourself for every page you write.
- 10. Find an accountability partner and keep each other honest.
- 11. Don’t let anyone read your pages while they are still raw. Keep them safe from well-meaning interference.
- 12. If what you’re writing is uncomfortable, stick with it. You may be on to something.
- 13. Always be reading something that inspires you to be a better writer.
- 14. If you get stuck, don’t struggle against the quicksand; float and let it teach you something you didn’t already know.
- 15. Copy –by hand—one page of prose you admire. Let it inform your understanding of the craft.
- 16. Write without a filter. Tell the truth.
- 17. Don’t apologize, don’t judge, don’t complain. Just write.
- 18. If you write one good sentence in 30 minutes, consider it a victory.
- 19. Forget perfection; it isn’t real. Write what is real.
- 20. Surrender to the process and trust. It’s all you can really do.
- 21. Do not read yesterday’s pages before you write today. Start fresh.
- 22. Start with one true sentence and then keep going.
- 23. Write Jackson Pollock style: throw everything you’ve got at the page. Don’t hold back.
- 24. Pierce your tender heart and let it bleed into your prose.
Here’s a radical idea: when you start to write a chapter for your book or a page in your journal, stop thinking. Don’t try to figure anything out. Just let go of your everyday mind and stop trying to tame the muse. Instead, take a slow, deep breath, let it out, and focus your attention on your heart.
According to research done at the HeartMath Institute, “Coherence is the state of heart, mind, and energetic alignment and cooperation.” Coherence is associated with sustained positive emotion and a high degree of emotional and mental stability. Those who regularly achieve this level of relaxed focus call it a flow state.
As a writer, you may think that you want to write from your head, because that’s what your brain wants you to think. “I’m in charge, so listen to me,” Brain says. “I’ve got all the ideas you need right up here in the old cabeza.” If writing seems hard relying on the head alone for ideas, maybe you should consider writing from a state of flow instead. Consider your head and heart coherence a sort of dream team. If you’re writing from your head alone, you’re only working at half capacity.
The Heart is The Place of Coherence
When you’re in a state of coherence, the heart is in charge. You’re tapped into body wisdom. You’re connected to inner guidance, and intuition is more accessible. Doesn’t this sound like a more powerful way to approach writing than with your brain alone?
It turns out that the heart is the most powerful source of electromagnetic energy in the human body. The heart’s electrical field is about 60 times greater than the electrical activity generated by the brain alone.
When we are in coherence, our thoughts, intentions, and actions seamlessly align. One of the biggest challenges many people I coach to write their books, is there is a misalignment. For most of our lives, we’ve operated believing that our brain makes all of the best, most important executive decisions, including anything to do with creativity. But what if that assumption is wrong?
Why Does it Matter?
Coherence brings many benefits directly related to a sense of well-being and creativity. There are a host of reasons to adopt a flow state as a daily practice, including:
- Decreased stress
- Increased energy and vitality
- Enhanced creativity
- Emotional intelligence and mastery
- Greater resilience
- Better mental health
- Improved physical health
- Improved quality of life
Psychologists call coherence “being in the flow” of life. In this relaxed and often euphoric state, we are hyper-focused while at the same time more mindful and relaxed. What’s more, when we enjoy the benefits of creativity…like making poetry, writing fiction, or dabbling in watercolor, our bodies come into alignment with those yummy endorphins. When we focus creatively, we create new neural pathways in our brains, which makes us more emotionally resilient. Being in the flow releases dopamine, the happiness hormone, which in turn impacts memory, impact, and focus.
You don’t have to retreat to a cave in the mountains and perch yourself on a cushion for years to achieve coherence. But you do have to be willing to practice what I call micro-meditations. If you live a busy life wearing many hats like most creative, ambitious, compassionate people I know, it can be hard to find an hour to sit on a cushion like a lotus blossom and sweep all thoughts from your mind like so many clouds. But finding three minutes to hit pause and refresh seems doable. After all, who doesn’t have three minutes, a couple of times a day to be still, empty your mind, and take a few deep belly breaths?
Imagine you’re sitting down to dash out a 1000-word essay on the topic you’re most passionate about. You have a couple of ideas sketched out, a couple of quotes you’d like to drop into the narrative to illustrate key points. But mainly, your ideas exist ‘in the place where creativity lives, in a sort of idea cloud that hovers just above your head. Follow these steps to boost your creativity before you begin to write:
- As you prepare to write and before you start tapping at the keyboard, sit up very straight, as if there is a string attached to the top of your head, lifting you up
- Close your eyes, rest your hands on your thighs, be aware of the sensation of the chair supporting you
- Take three full, slow, deep, rhythmic breathes in for the count of four, hold for a count of four, and release to the count of six.
If a calm state of presence begins to wash over you, you’ve successfully slipped into a state of flow. Before you begin to write, focus for a moment on your heart space. Feel appreciation and compassion for that wonderful electro-magnetic miracle that pumps away, day and night on your behalf. Send it a nod of gratitude.
Now that you’ve entered your state of coherence, you’re officially in the flow. Let the coherent creativity commence!
Cynthia Gregory is an award-winning writer and author of Journaling as Sacred Practice, and What is Possible From Here. To learn more about her creative writing workshops or sign up for her newsletter, go to cgregorycreativity.com
I so love this vid! Creativity is so much a part of who I am, it’s literally embedded in everything I do. Even this website. (Ahem.) This is all to say I’m loving the investigation into what feeds creativity, where it comes from, how it makes us better human persons.