Writer’s Block: Immobility of the Soul

Writer’s block is not a myth. In fact, it’s a profound truth, and a source of anxiety and even grief for those who love to write. I think we go wrong in conceptualizing it as a single monolithic thing – the word ‘block’ itself conjures up an image of something huge and impossible to shift. A few reasons for this dreaded immobility of the soul have occurred to me:

* Overwhelming events in our lives have gotten in the way. (There was a long and confusing battle with brain disease in my home, and I couldn’t write for most of that time.)

* We’ve been firing on all cylinders for such a long time and staring at our work so hard that the creative part of the brain is saying HALT! And you shall go no further until you do halt. Maybe we just need to take a walk; maybe we need to put the book in the desk drawer for a while; maybe we need to work on another project for a while.

* The voices in our head have become overwhelming. They’ve stopped their jolly little discussion of the need to wear a tinfoil hat and gotten right down to ridiculing us for every word we write, filling us with burning shame when we contemplate the paragraph we spent the whole morning constructing. This is a tough one – I think that all artists have this kind of self-doubt. For me, the only way to get through it is to ritualistically kick the fuckers out: smudge your writing area with sage; play the Star Spangled Banner on your strat with the amp up as high as it’ll go; ask your muse for some face time. This last has worked particularly well for me.


~ by Leigh on May 16, 2009.

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