the writing is in us

Wandering writing blogs, one common theme is writer’s block.  Most often, the author goes on to address sources of inspiration.  This might be imagery, a walk about in a natural environment or a city, music, or something more unconventional, like meditation or yoga.

I’ve yet to see the issue addressed in terms of ourselves.  Writer’s block is a condition of self, a perceived disconnect from our self-source.  We are huge walking reservoirs of experience, memory, and perception, and these things well stirred are what produce words that assemble into the stories we scribble out via our fingers.  You…to paraphrase Kiki Dee performing I’ve Got The Music In Me,  have the writing in you.

We are creatures who live in societies within which we socialise, conform to accepted practises and decorum.  The walls created in us can be good – respecting the personal boundaries of those around us – or they can be harmful, suppressing who we are as we try to fit in, feeding insecure, and perhaps we pretend to be someone we are not – been there, done that.

When looking at writer’s block, consider these two elements – our reservoirs and our walls.  Most often, blockage is not from a lack of inspiration from without, it is something awry inside, separating us from what makes us sentient and human.

I agree an image or a song may spark us anew; music can set me on a frenzy of new imaginings.  What I suspect happens with external inspiration is it breaks the roadblock connecting me to me.  A wall may stand in my way; I will blow by it and bask in the flow of my inner reservoir.  I will admit writers block is something foreign to me, because of years spent attuned to drawing out my feelings (in dealing with gender dysphoria) no hindering valve shuts down my connection to my creative pipeline.

When I taught a creative writing class to inmates, I used an extreme example – a floor tile – to show how walls create barriers to inspiration.  “You should be able to write a story on that tile,” I told them as I pointed at one.  Now I will use the same example here.  There, furrowed faces stared blankly back at me, no doubt remembering I’ve managed to assemble all the letters to ‘daft’ in the course of my personal life.  Then I’d elaborate, starting with before their stump line.  “There is the shape, the size, the colour, the thickness,” and all were with me.  They got off my train before the next stop, which was “who made the tile?  Who installed it?  And since, what has happened on top of that tile through the years?”

Suddenly, minds were awash with story ideas.  They lived some of their lives there, they knew the drill, they could assemble visions of inmates past, of the course of their lives.  They could even imagine things unacceptable in their world nonetheless playing out in their minds, imaginings of frivolity and shenanigans.

When facing a block, yeah, the music, the pictures, nature, a conversation… all things which might set your fingers moving again, but take a moment to look at the walls you’ve built.  They may not be apparent at first glance; you have to catch yourself in the act of turning around when you reach one.  What is it you go for and believe you cannot do?  Is all you see those first four descriptives of a floor tile?

Before I conclude, consider reading Geraldine Brook’s People of the Book an excellent example of what we can miss if we fail to look beyond the obvious.  And now, since I’ve attached a music theme to this post, I’ll leave you with a quote of lyrics, written by Grace Slick and Pete Sears, from the song Hyperdrive:

Because I felt it I believe it

Because there are things I’ve never seen that I believe

So I’m going to place my face right in the triangle door

Till I can move right on through instead of just standing here

Looking at the floor.

And it rains again tonight, I can think light years ahead

Or I could put myself back a thousand years ago

As if I’d always been here before or as if I am still to be born

I’m a slow loser, but I’m a fast learner

That much I know

Anyone can go

That much I know

Anyone can go

That much I know

Anyone can go.




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