The potential causes of writing blocks are multitudinous. We humans are complex, multifaceted organisms who are occasionally, or frequently, pushed and pulled by contradictory impulses. Such as wanting to write and not doing it.
Walt Whitman offers something helpful in his “Song of Myself“ when he writes,
“Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.”
This statement is helpful and compassionate in its acknowledgment and acceptance of the vast, multifarious nature of our hearts and minds. The rich, roiling, mysterious nature that is our birthright gives us the inspiration, material and talent to write, but it may also gum up the works.
Writing is hard work that can trigger all manner of challenging and aversive feelings like fear, dread, boredom, resentment and overwhelm. Some of the multitudes within us do not want to experience those discomforts, and they devise strategies intended to make us postpone, avoid, or restrict writing. In subtle and cunning ways, these mischevious elements of our psychology engage in ongoing battle with the creative, ambitious, responsible and excited multitudes that are pushing for more productivity.
The good news is that the situation is dynamic and writing blocks are not made of stone. Things can change. In my book I describe a variety of ways to do this including:
1. Identifying the inner forces that interfere, and understanding why they are there. Cognitive-behavioral or psychodynamic therapy are potentially useful ways of doing this. Sometimes an enhanced awareness of our inner world leads to a greater sense of control over writing behavior.
2. Creating new writing habits by reinforcing your productive impulses and removing rewards for avoiding writing. With this approach you are essentially beefing up support within yourself and in your environment for improving writing productivity.
3. Actively soliciting support and connecting with other people who can be allies in your writing aspirations.
4. Let go of self-condemnation and guilt about your writing process. A pointless waste of good energy that would be better utilized by helping you write. You don’t have to feel badly about yourself; it’s a learned habit that can be unlearned.
Walt Whitman had his own share of struggles pursuing writing, but he stayed committed to his dream. He embraced the whole, multitudinous enchilada of his life and transformed it into poetry. He writes in “Song of Myself”:
“Stop this day and night with me and you shall possess the origin of
You shall possess the good of the earth and sun, (there are millions
of suns left,)
You shall no longer take things at second or third hand, nor look
through the eyes of the dead, nor feed on the spectres in
You shall not look through my eyes either, nor take things from me,
You shall listen to all sides and filter them from your self.