What stops you writing? - Claire Scobie
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What stops you writing?

What stops you writing?

Is it your heart – are you afraid of what you might find? Or your head? Does it think you don’t have time?

10 tips on how to stop the block

  1. If you feel overwhelmed, think small. Isolate one thing and write about that for 10 minutes.
  2. Spend a few minutes writing about all the stuff that is making you not write – fear of failure, insecurities, exhaustion. By writing about the block, we lessen the fear.
  3. Shake it up. If you write in silence, play music. If you are solitary, take your work to a café.
  4. Give yourself permission to write one word. What word would you chose?
  5. Listen to your intuition. You might think you know what you ‘should’ be writing about, but if you stop, breathe and ‘tune in’ to yourself, your inner voice may be telling you something else. As you listen, you unlock a deeper aspect of yourself.
  6. If your inner voice is telling you that you’re no good or that writing is a waste of time, you can begin a dialogue with that part of yourself.
  7. Novelist Virginia Woolf was the first to give the ‘internal censor’ a name. She recognised that part of her was censoring or blocking certain thoughts or feelings, usually connected with sex or the body. In an essay called ‘Professions for Women’, Woolf wrote that her inner censor was ‘intensely sympathetic [and] charming’. Woolf’s response was to ‘kill her. Had I not killed her, she would have killed me.’
  8. If that seems too radical, try making a ‘pact’ with these blocking parts of yourself. Your inner censor might feel fearful if you are writing about sensitive issues. Why not promise, that after writing, you will destroy what you have written. Often, once things are down on the page, they don’t seem so bad.
  9. The inner critic tends to back off if ‘it’ knows you are writing for yourself rather than for public consumption. Sometimes you can let that part of yourself have ‘its’ say and then, gently but firmly, ask it to stop. Or you can override it by writing very fast, giving the inner critic less time to intervene.
  10. Sometimes try writing from a different point of view. If you write as ‘she’ or ‘he’, it helps to distance yourself from any experience. According to Tristine Rainer, it also ‘seems to fool both internal critics and internal censors.

So what strategies do you have?

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