I hate to brag, but, would you believe that I have never had a writer’s block? I have always been able to sit down and write whatever I felt that I needed to write. The problems I have had with writing is that I have had too much to write and too little time to do it. Getting started writing has never been my problem, my main problem is starting projects and not finishing them, but that is an issue for another blog. I thought about why I never have to worry about having a blank page. I have intuitively developed psychological writing strategies which help me avoid getting writer’s blocks all together.
The philosophy that I use involves a psychological apparatus created by Sigmund Freud. According to Freud, our psyche has three parts. One is the id, the second is the ego, and the third is the super-ego. Eric Berne took this concept one step further into a practice he called transactional analysis (TA) which makes understanding the id, ego, and super ego a lot simpler. The id is your inner child, your ego is your adult, and the super-ego is your parent.
Your adult is your mature self. Your adult is the side of you that most people see. It is the part of you that makes the goals and makes the decisions on getting things done, it is the part of you that normally interacts with the world. Your id is your inner-child. It is your playful side. It is your creative side. Another word commonly used for your inner child is your muse. Its the part of you that get the idea about what you are going to write and then writes about it. Your inner child makes no judgements, it just plays and creates.
Your inner-parent is the side of you that is the side of you that includes your inner critic. Your inner-parent is the part of you that is critical of your inner child. It dictates that there is a right and a wrong way of doing things. That is often the way that we present our inner-parent to our inner child. What we need to realize is that our inner-parent isn’t the bad guy that we make our inner-parent out to be. Our inner parent is there to protect our inner child from harm from the outside world. Our inner-parent has a nurturing side too. The problem is, we don’t know how to use our inner-parent to do this side of parenting our inner child.
To understand how we can use this to our writing advantage, we need to understand that all emotions are based on the feeling of love, and/or the feeling of fear. Think about it, when we feel happy, we are feeling love. When we anxious, we are feeling fear. When we feel sad, we are feeling love and some fear. When we are feeling angry, we can be feeling love, but usually, that feeling is based in fear as well. Therefore, our inner-parent deals with the inner child either using love or fear. Our inner parent can be critical and intimidate the inner child with fear, or the inner-parent can be protective and deal with the inner child with love.
Let me use an example from being a parent to show you how your inner parent works as a nurturer. Let’s say that a child is afraid of the dark and is afraid to go up the stairs to bed. The parent could stand there and bully the child into going up the stairs and into the bedroom. If the child is more afraid of the parent than she is of the dark, the child may go to bed, but the child will be very resistant to the idea and will not want to do that.
However, if the parent decides instead to show the child that he or she is there is nothing to be afraid of and that the parent is there to lovingly protect the child, the child will be more willing to go up the stairs and go to bed. A nurturing parent will go up the stairs with the child and show the child that there is nothing on the stairs that will hurt the child. The parent will then turn on the bedroom light and show the child that there is nothing harmful in the closet an nothing harmful under the bed. The parent will lovingly help the child into bed, kiss the child good night and remind the child that he or she will protect the child if anything happens. Its the same with your inner parent. The inner parent can either be a bully or a protector.
Well, that’s all fine and well, you say, but how can all this prevent writer’s block?
First recognize that writer’s block is based in fear of some sort. Often it is the inner-child’s fear that he or she will not live up to the inner-parent’s expectations because the inner parent (editor) is trying to correct the child all the time. If you see your inner parent (editor) doing this, imagine your inner parent taking a different role in your writing experience. Imagine your inner parent taking your inner-child through the writing experience and showing the child that the environment is safe. Picture your inner-parent agreeing not to be critical, and telling the child that he or she wants the child to play. The parent then reminds the child that the child is safe and that later, after the child is done playing, the parent agrees to clean up the mess (that means edit) but for now, the child is simply allowed to be the child. If you’re going to imagine the parent standing by watching, imagine that parent standing in the background watching the child. Imagine the child looking up at the parent for reassurance and seeing the parent smile and nod reassuringly at the child. The child turns back and returns to play knowing that she is safe to continue in her play.
Now get down to the business of playing with your writing experience. It doesn’t matter what you write, it doesn’t have to be good. You are just playing. Determine what you want to do next in your writing project. Do you want more information? Go to google, type in a phrase, look at the information on different sites. What can you use? Start “playing” with information. Do you have a scene that you want to flesh out? Get a writing prompt related to that scene and begin “playing” with that prompt. Photos make great prompts, so do passages from other books or from online articles. Write what you see, then make it your own. Bang it, mold it, and play with it. Morph it into your own work. Morph it enough so that it is no longer the original and has become a part of you and your work. (You don’t want to plagiarize.)
Use your inner-parent to help protect your inner-child and her play time. Your inner-parent likes rules, so set some rules concerning your writing time that allows your inner-child space and time to play. For instance, my inner-parent likes these rules: I will write first thing in the morning. I will write every day. I will add 560 words to my novel every day so that I am able to get this draft of my novel done by May 1st. I will stand by and make certain that my inner-child has the time and the space to play so that this “play” can occur. If you will learn to use your inner-parent to protect your inner-child rather than criticize her, you will never have writer’s block again.