Sunday, November 8, 2015

Suggestions for ridding writers of 'writer's block' via Elephant Journal

I enjoyed this short talk by Waylon Lewis of Elephant Journal about writer's block, an ailment that at some point hits many of us writers. The talk was part of my Elephant Journal internship homework this week.

Below follows some of the things that really stuck out to me (I may be adding a bit of my own insights, as well):

Writer's block is synonymous with a separation of one's self from the written word. Meditation is a tool that can help with this, as it essentially brings the mind to ease and dissolves any sense of pushing or forcing. Meditation also brings the practitioner closer to one's self. When there is a certain clarity of who we are, what we think, what and how we see, there is no separation between the writer and the written word. You essentially "write your mind." < This idea is possibly more closely related to Kerouac’s statement that in writing, the first thought is the very best thought. Many people use this idea as an excuse to not delve more deeply into their work – but, this particular practice requires the writer to not only hone the written craft, but to also do the self work required to get to the point where there is no separation between the mind and what comes through the pen. 
One of the participants on this call asked how she could reconcile a contemplative lifestyle in a world that definitely is not contemplative. But, here again, the answer is simply to go within. It’s that self work, that practice of meditation that dissolves any barriers and allows the observer and processor of the knowledge gleaned from those observations to express with clarity when it comes to the page. 
People push and force much to often when it comes to writing, but pushing and forcing could mean that we don’t have anything to say at all. And perhaps, when we are in this place, we shouldn’t write at all, lest we fall culprit to contributing to the incessant noise that is already out there. When we are in this place, we do not add anything but static.
What if art was a “proclamation of truth” rather than a proclamation of neurosis? In this talk, we’re shown that – though many writers do indeed suffer great neurosis and also create great art as a result of that neuroses – this is not a necessary state for the creation of art, be it great or not. Art does not have to be created out of pain (though it often is). Art can also (or instead) be an expression of clarity, compassion, and even sanity.
“We’re not trying to entertain people. We’re not trying to create more noise.” <This is writing with a specific purpose of opening people up, of sincerely sharing one’s experiences, and creating something that is truly genuine because it comes from an authentic place.
In the case that none of the above has been helpful (how long do we have to wait for our meditation to start dissolving those blocks, should we have them, for example?) there are other tools, a couple of which follow:
When you are stuck, instead of thinking of words, think of images. Write those images. ...and if that doesn’t work, rap about ideas with friends you trust. Those talks always seem to draw out ideas worthy of being worked out on the page.

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