Have you ever thought about the things that cause writer’s block?
I was reading something recently that discussed ways to change the way the writer thinks about writing which, in turn, purports to help open up the creative center. Actually, it’s part of an online course I enrolled in — Thinking Sideways. So far, it’s pretty cool and doesn’t appear to be a waste of cash…always a bonus.
In the first lesson, the student explores those things that work as barriers to thinking and inhibit success. Every situation, no matter how bad, holds an opportunity. We just have to look for it (we may have to dig really, really deep, but opportunity exists in everything, I’m sure of it). We have to know that the opportunity is present in the situation. We need to look for it by asking questions about how the situation arose, what we may learn from it, and what we might help others learn if they encounter something similar.
Once we know the opportunity exists, then we need to find it and make note of it. Try to define it. No matter what it is, it matters in some way, shape, or form.
Don’t let the opportunity pass you by.
We need to get used to thinking not in terms of problems, but in terms of opportunities.
Frankly, I really like that as a global statement. It works on so many personal and professional levels and is one heck of a motto if you’re into personal growth. Just saying.
Holly Lisle, the developer of this program, continues on to discuss the barriers to thinking. In general terms, what if we never start? What if we never finish, or act, or think?
Take a second and just think about that.
When we don’t start, what happens? When we don’t finish, where do we end up? When we don’t act, will we succeed? When we don’t think, what fate befalls us?
These barriers frequently benefit others and never benefit us. To beat these barriers into submission, Ms. Lisle recommends the following course of action:
- Bad things happen. We trip over the cat and break our wrist when we land. We nick ourselves shaving because we’re racing through our shower. Some idiot who should have never been granted a driver’s license comes careening through a red light. Shit happens. That’s life. So, we can’t live in fear. We have to start, and we have to persist. We have to set aside time to write each day. Then we have to follow through, day after day. If we keep it up long enough, it might even become a habit we can’t live without.
- Only God is perfect. The rest of us are flawed. We learn from our mistakes. So, stop editing as you go. Set a word quota or a minimum time limit and then just write. If we keep stopping to go back and fix what we’ve written, we’ll never get anywhere. Save the editing for later, or read what was written on Tuesday when you sit down on Wednesday, edit only that, then write to your daily limit or beyond.
- We are not powerless. I don’t know about you, but there are only a couple of things I consider myself powerless around…death and taxes. There’s no way either of those can be beaten. But the rest? We all have power, whether it’s an internal strength or something God provides. You need to acknowledge that the only one who can help you is you or God. No one else will do it for you. Sitting around, throwing a pity party, is a sure way of letting life (and creativity) pass us by. If we give up our power and think we can’t do something, the odds are pretty good that we won’t.
- We cripple ourselves when we don’t use our brains to think. Feelings are great and, sure, they have their place. Feel when you’re surrounded by a hug. Feel when your child tells you “I love you”. Feel when you’re writing that emotional love scene. Feel when feeling is warranted. The rest of the time…think. Thinking gives us power. Pay attention to what someone is trying to sell and evaluate the real benefits. If we all walked into a car dealership to buy a car based on a feeling, what would we end up with? I’m pretty sure we’d be sold something that really didn’t fit the bill.
The second lesson focuses on mind-mapping. The exercise is designed to bring out those things that make each of us individuals. We are not what we write; what we write has to be us.
We can do research and learn new things that can be incorporated into our writing, but if we write about stuff we absolutely detest and that holds no interest for us, how good is the writing really going to be?
On the other hand, if we write about what makes us us, then our writing is going to have a greater impact and will pull our readers in to hold their attention. It doesn’t matter what words or phrases pop out in relation to the starting points we each choose. What matters is that we realize that those things are what make us individuals. But even in individuality, we all have a lot in common. I mean, come on, who doesn’t love chocolate?
So, what makes you the you that you are? What stomps on your creativity? What makes it flow?