The secret to letting go of writer's block.

May 21, 2014

I'm sure as a writer, you've met Mr Doubtbag.


His dialogue is terribly monotonous but for some strange reason writers continue to listen to him.


Mr Doubtbag says, “Give up!. You don't have the character's voice, your plot is boring. This novel is not working. Retrain. Get a different job. Oh, but that's right you can’t because you’re too old and there’s no time and you’ve got kids and you made bad decisions..”


And the writer. How does she respond? Does she say, "Rack off, bully"? No! She encourages Mr Doubtbag.


Writer: “Thanks, you're so right. I’m not made for this. I simply can’t finish this novel.”


Let me tell you something: Doubt is a mouthpiece for fear. And since when did fear get to drive the car?


Our brain is roughly broken into three parts: The reptilian part respnsbile for fight or flight, the limbic system responsible for emotions and the prefrontal cortex responsible for thinking. 


So you sit at your desk and your subconscious goes, woohoo, white paper, that means space and time, doesn't it? Great. Look buddy, I've got a few old beliefs and feelings sitting down. If you could just hear me out we might get rid of them and let in a few new, healthier beliefs.  


Say, as a child you came up with a super dooper suggestion and someone told you your idea was terrible. Maybe it was a teacher, a parent, a sibling and you felt crushed. There was no-one around to listen to your sadness and your anger and the feelings got caught inside, entrenching a belief. 


Now, you're all grown up but the old belief and the old feelings are still there. You go to write your next paragraph and who should come along but Mr Doubtbag.

"You've got no good ideas," he jeers.

"Oh no," you stutter.

Your know damn well you need ideas in order to write. Your amygdala kicks in. It has strong associations from the past. No good ideas = anger and sadness.


It sends out a message of fear and anxiety - and possibly some stress hormones like adrenalin and cortisol. Oh boy. 


Your reptilian brain goes, ok, DANGER, sabre tooth tiger ahead, we're about to get killed, get out of here....


We're not cave people anymore. We can start to release these old beliefs. Over the next few weeks I'll talk about a bundle of processes that will do just that.


I"m sure you've had bouts of writers block yourself. How have you dealt with it? I'd love to hear about it.



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