Mindfulness Techniques to Combat Writer’s Block

We’ve all been there. That moment when the mojo just seems to slip away. When we stare at our word document with thoughts rattling in our skull. WTF? Where did it go? Even the thought of plucking away at our keyboard seems futile. Can’t think, can’t eat, can’t do a thing about the next great novel that had once contained so much brilliance you were sure this is the one. The one to break open that container of indie author to artistic brilliance. Now you’re spending hours, possibly days just staring, your thoughts dripping with frustration. 

What’s an author to do? Take a tip (or a few), STOP looking at it. Stop driving yourself nuts. Below are some steps to take to get that mojo back. Mindfulness can be used for anything, including writers block. So let’s hash out some misconceptions and follow the words of Confucius, “Life is simple, but we humans insist on making it complicated.” Keep it simple people.

Part One: Stop!

So why stop? Some of us have that belief that should we stop writing we’ll lose even more, we’ll lose momentum and the story will just vanish into thin air and become another project that just didn’t get completed. Question to ask yourself in this moment is, Are you truly committed? I’m hoping that answer is yes (and not committed to some mental health facility because of the dreaded writers block). But here’s another quote, “You can’t see the forest from the trees.” Sometimes we get so wrapped up in the story we lose sight of the larger picture. I’ve been there, so deeply involved with a fight scene or epic and critical passage I can lose sight of the smaller details that drive the story deeper. Or I’m trying to punch through to get to one of those larger scenes. Remember what Ernest Hemingway said, “prose is architecture, not interior design” and those smaller scenes are the framework for your story, which leads to a few questions to ask yourself once you’ve put the story to the side to take back a larger view of what you’ve been doing.

Writer’s block happens and it happens for a reason. So put the below questions in your mind and let them marinate. 

Part Two: Ask yourself these questions.

Did I write something that doesn’t fit?

It could be that you took your story in a different direction. Had your antagonist say or do something completely out of character and it just doesn’t sit right.

Did the writing style change? 

I notice that as I’m reading other books once I finish one book and start another, my writing style can change. This is a particular reflection on when I switch the genre I’ve been reading. If this is the answer to your writer’s block try putting down the new book and delving into a story that fits within the genre your currently writing.  

Is there something I need to research?

Our readers know. Despite the genre you’re writing in our readers are well read intelligent people. We can’t just throw something at them without explanation or just cause. Maybe your protagonist took on a new alien race or your historical romance included an element that wouldn’t be invented for another hundred years. Whatever the case, perhaps some research is needed to make your plot more viable.

Did the story change? 

Did I throw my protagonist into a void that doesn’t fit into context with the larger story? Did my romance not seem romantic enough? Simple, simple, simple, relax the answers will come.

Any external concerns or issues that are taking up my time?

A bill wasn’t paid, you’ve got a mortgage to pay, the library is charging late fees, kids are nagging, mom keeps calling and no one will leave you be to just write. Balance feeds the mojo. If you’re out of balance creativity can slip through your fingers like star systems in the tight grasp of the Empire. Shift your attention to nip these issues in the bud. Take moms phone call; pay attention to your family, return your library books. Take care of the external surroundings and the internal juices will begin to flow again.

But here’s the trick, unless the answer(s) popped up quickly in one of those Ah Ha moments, don’t focus on trying to figure it out. Usually the more we focus the more confused we get. Frustrated too. Just allow those questions to sit in the center of your mind (which is where the answers are to begin with), take a deep breath, in through the nose and let your lungs force the exhale across your lips. Close the laptop or shut down the desktop. Walk away!

Part Three: Change up your routine 

Do something different, something, anything. Go for a walk, go out for dinner, spend time with family or friends (if you don’t have any go see a movie), go to the book store, meditate, smoke a joint, have a drink, go to a meeting, whatever your desire. But don’t do the same old same old. You need to break up the energies swirling around that aided in the formation of the writer’s block to begin with. Change it up, mix up the energy, put all worries and concerns out of your mind to clear your thoughts.  The answers always come when we’re focused on something different. If none of the above work for you, you can always…

Go the HemingWAY  (my personal favorite). Ernest Hemingway used to sit by a fire and burn orange peals when he couldn’t get a story started. (Yes, this dreaded disease happens to the most seasoned authors too). There’s nothing like sitting by a fire to melt away any brain blocks and allow the answers to come to fruition, manifesting the needed mojo to start plucking away again, moving those fingers across your keyboard as the scene’s take full shape from the center of your mind to tingle your fingers and type faster, because the scene just can’t come quick enough. Now you’re back. Complete satisfaction has returned.

Follow these instructions and writers block will seem like a gift especially once the editing process has begun. Remember, there’s a reason for the block, so take a step back, ask yourself those questions, change your routine, relax, be proud to be an author, and the mojo will return, the mindful way. Honestly this process shouldn’t take more than a day’s time. Should this not work (I know it will), I highly suggest you contact me for a hypnosis session. Perhaps there’s something else causing that block.The answer will come. It’s guaranteed.

~ PD Alleva

P.D. Alleva is an author, psychotherapist and hypnotherapist specializing in trauma, addiction and mental health. He is the author of several books, including fiction novels, IndifferenceA Billion Tiny Moments In Time…, Twisted Tales of Deceit, and Presenting the Marriage of Kelli Anne & Gerri Denemer; Seriously Twisted; These Gods of Darkness (Poetry), and non-fiction philosophical books, Let Your Soul Evolve (1st and 2nd ed), and Spiritual Growth Therapy: Philosophy, Practices and Mindfulness Workbook. He has developed behavioral protocols for addiction and mental health and teaches mindfulness, Buddhist meditations and manifestation techniques to his patients as a means and alternative to using pharmaceuticals. He is currently in private practice with his wife, Lisa. 

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