Debilitating thoughts that plague writers (e.g., “I have no talent,” “I will fail if I attempt this,” or “I am not a writer”) are generally exaggerations and distortions of the truth that have gained too much authority and power due to their endless internal repetition. They are a form of self-inflicted brainwashing in which the struggling writer is both the terrorist and the terrorized.
Dragging these thoughts into the clear light of day and examining them more objectively is one method of freeing yourself from being bullied and controlled by them. They are mental habits we have learned, not immutable “Truths.” They are also temporary experiences. Sometimes all we have to do is wait them out and they will go away.
If you become more aware of the mental processes connected with your blocks, you will at least have a fighting chance of escaping their control. There are some things you can do to alter your inner experience.
Start by identifying your own particular set of thoughts and feelings about writing. The self-assessments presented in The Blocked Writer’s Book of the Dead should help with this. Most of us have a handful of negative thought patterns that recur consistently. Try to hear them and make a list. The most common problematic thoughts generate the emotions of fear, resentment, hopelessness, or overwhelm. Look for these.
If you are only aware of feeling blank or daydreaming, try tonotice subtle or faint feelings that may provide clues about what you are saying to yourself. Most of us have a handful of negative thought patterns that recur consistently. Try to hear them and make a list.
If nothing seems to emerge for you in the form of an identifiable thought, pay attention to emotions and body sensations connected with your writing. These are usually recurrent patterns as well, and sometimes with a bit of effort and focus you can identify the thoughts connected with emotions and sensations.
Watching these thoughts arise and disappear, again and again, will help you stop believing in them. Negative or scary thoughts are not important – even though they may be screaming for your attention. Take a deep breath, let them go and proceed with your writing.