I was chatting with my sixteen year old daughter Mackenzie last night about writer’s block. She’s a prolific writer and I’ve encouraged her all along to write every day. I’ve told her not to neglect the gift; that it could have a negative impact on her well-being if she let too many days go by without putting words down. She’s done well with that and I think she can see how it benefits her to be consistent in her writing practice.
But she mentioned writer’s block. I think all of us writers have experienced this feeling before: you sit down to write and nothing comes; every word like a tooth that must come out, firmly secured in a clenched jaw and you have nothing but a puny pair of pliers to do the job.
I think writer’s block is nothing more than pain avoidance. Your spirit knows that writing opens the door to your heart – the true flow of words that comes when you’re in the zone is a direct path to your spirit. And when there is pain locked inside the heart, the head says, “we’re not going there today, sister.” For me, it didn’t matter if I was writing about enterprise server technology, when I was subconsciously avoiding pain, no words were going to be flowing onto the page. It was just too dangerous, my head said.
I think this is why some people saying writing is just opening up a vein. This is why some writers can only seem to write after a drink or two.
I lived in a state like this for years without realizing why it was so difficult to write. It tortured me, not being able to let the words flow. It made me miserable and sick, contributing further to the already damaged state of my heart, until I finally learned to come to the table with my pain, to face it head on. When I finally realized that I was practicing pain avoidance, I could make a decision that feeling the pain locked in my heart was much better than feeling the pain of being a writer who doesn’t write.
On a morning when the words are once again stilted or even dammed up, I can stop and realize that I am doing it again: avoiding something painful. Then I re-up on my deal with myself to be to brave in the face of the pain. To take a deep breath and bleed.