What’s Blocking You?

I couldn’t think of anything to write about for this week’s opener so probably I need to write about writer’s block, no? How can we write when we can’t write?

When you’re feeling blocked, poke around in your psyche a little bit and see what’s really creating a cement wall between your brain and your keyboard.

When I ask my writing students what keeps them from writing, their top three reasons more or less boil down to these:

“I don’t have time.”

“I don’t have any ideas.”

“I’m afraid to open up/of rejection/that people will get mad.”

Time could be a legitimate excuse: Everyone gets busy. But I bet if you read a few articles about productivity, you’d find tons of time wasters in your current schedule (cough Facebook cough). What we really mean when we talk about not having time is not having long stretches of uninterrupted time in which to write. And yes, long stretches of time to focus are essential for writing projects from time to time. But we can also get in the mindset that unless we have such big blocks of time, we can’t write at all. So instead of waiting for two hours that never seem to come free, try seeing what you can accomplish in ten minutes a day this week.

No ideas? How can you overcome this block? Well, you can train yourself to become inspired, a lot like Pavlov trained his dog to drool for the absence of food (Pavlov was kind of an asshole). Create a writing ritual that helps to trigger your creativity – telling your brain, in essence, now is when we get down to the business of art. You can also use tools like written and visual prompts or freewriting to generate ideas.

Fear holds us back in multiple ways – everything from “people will hate this” to “people will hate me.” There are stories we all want to tell after, say, a few people die or lose their internet access forever. Deep down, I think we all know that these are probably the stories most worth telling. Art requires risk, and risk engenders the possibility of offense and rejection. This isn’t the same as simply writing mean things or oversharing just to be edgy. Rather, the stories that scare us the most show us where our true vulnerability lies, and that authenticity is what makes our writing compelling to the reader.

Writer’s block is a real thing, but it arises out of lies and limiting beliefs that our brain spews out. Hack a path through those thoughts to find out what’s true for you, and I bet you’ll find stories waiting to be told in the clearing on the other side.

Nonfiction Know-How:

Constructive Criticism Part II

Ever hear “it’s better to give than receive?” Well, in the case of criticism, it’s certainly easier to give than receive. For part two of what has now turned into a two part post, we’re going to dive into receiving criticism. Because you know what? It kind of sucks, but it’s good for us as individuals and as a community. Like vaccines. Learn even more from Rowan here.

How to submit and fully participate in the challenge:

Basic YeahWrite guidelines: 1000 word limit; your entry can be dated no earlier than this past Sunday; nonfiction personal essay, creative opinion piece or mostly true story based on actual events.

1. In the sidebar of this week’s post, please grab the code beneath the nonfiction badge and paste it into the HTML view of your entry;
2. Follow the Inlinkz instructions after clicking “add your link” to upload your entry to this week’s challenge grid;
3. Your entry should appear immediately on the grid if you don’t receive an error message;
4. Please make the rounds to read all the entries in this week’s challenge; and
5. Consider turning off moderated comments and CAPTCHA on your own blog.

Submissions for this week’s challenges will close on Wednesday at 10pm ET. Voting will then open immediately thereafter and close on Thursday at 10pm ET. The winners, as always, will be celebrated on Friday.

Thank you for sharing with us your hard work! Good luck in the challenge…

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About the author:

Cindy is an Asheville-based freelance writer, editor, and writing coach. A former attorney, she writes frequently on the topic of criminal justice reform in addition to blogging on her personal site The Reedster Speaks. Her work has appeared on Brain Child, The Huffington Post, the Erma Bombeck Writer’s Workshop, and WhatToExpect.com. She is a four-time recipient of BlogHer’s Voices of the Year award and, here at YeahWrite, acts as its Nonfiction Editor. Cindy frequently speaks on the craft of writing and teaches the creative nonfiction boot camp “What’s Your Story?” through her professional site cindyreed.me.

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