According to Dr Danny Penman, there is no such thing as Writer’s Block. Fellow writers will know what it’s like to have no new ideas spring up randomly in your mind like they used to, the desperation as you sit in front of a blank screen hoping that the words will simply flow from your fingertips and you’ll find your rhythm again. But it doesn’t happen. So what do you do? Do you sit back and wait for the block to crumble? I’m sad to say that I have done this, essentially hoping the problem would fix itself. As time went on, I began to worry that I had simply run out of ideas, that I had no more stories to tell. Then I blamed other factors, such as moving from a part-time job to a full-time one, lack of sleep, depression, anxiety, etc. But it always came back to self-annihilation.
‘I’m not good enough to be a writer’
‘I can’t write like the authors of the books I read day in and day out’
These thoughts constantly swelled my head, and still do. I am not writing this as someone who has overcome these creative-blocking hurdles, instead I am writing as someone who has finally decided to try to be that someone. Instead of waiting for the problem to fix itself or constantly criticising myself, I want to know what it is that’s blocking my creativity, and furthermore, to unblock it.
The starting point
My first step was to start Mindfulness for Creativity by Dr Danny Penman. If you have read my previous blogs, you will know that mindfulness is something I started about a year ago. I’m sad to say that once I completed the 8-week programme by Dr Danny Penman and Dr Mark Williams, I fell quickly out of the habit of meditation. I began to see it as a chore and therefore decided it wasn’t worth it. I’d like to say I no longer see it as a chore, but I can’t help it, this is simply another hurdle I need to overcome in order to rediscover my creativity.
What is my goal, you may ask? Is it to be a published author? While that is certainly one of my goals, my main one is in fact to be the girl who used to come home from school/college/work, jump on her laptop and just write and write and write. I miss writing, the joy it gave me, the excitement of starting a new story or exploring new ideas. That’s what I want back more than anything.
As my mindfulness course is currently teaching me, it’s the constant chatter inside my head that is blocking my creativity. I allow thoughts to take over and my body to run on autopilot that I have no room left for creative ideas to push through. Of course this makes sense, but there is something else, for me at least.
Becoming a Writer by Dorothea Brande is a book I purchased years ago at the recommendation of my former Creative Writing teacher. But I never read it. Why? I was afraid I would find no help in it, that I was a hopeless case. To put it simply, I was very scared of this book.
You have to understand that this book was written in the 30s and the language takes a bit of getting used to. Three chapters in, I now feel I can read this as a companion to my Mindfulness Programme, as they both focus on what’s going on inside rather than techniques and strategies of writing an actual story. Or perhaps I will find they clash with each other, who knows? Isn’t that what a journey is all about, not knowing? If I could predict down to the letter what was going to happen, I wouldn’t be scared out of my wits. But that’s part of the fun, I guess.
Another book that was recommended to me was The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. I have carried out this course twice, but like mindfulness, I quickly fell out of the habits it encouraged me to keep. There’s always an excuse. Could I use this also as a companion, or is it too much to take on at once? After all, Cameron also recommends tasks that focus on your mind before any writing is started, such as Artist’s Dates and Morning Pages. Could it be that the answer to my creative block was staring me in the face for years without me realising?
The first chapter
While I do hope to use more than one resource for unlocking my creativity, I intend to start with Mindfulness for Creativity, as it offers a structure in which I can work around. Hopefully I can incorporate the wisdom of Dorothea Brande and Julia Cameron and whoever else I might encounter along the way, because I figure it’s better to have too many resources than too few.
My journey begins now…