Psychological Writing Strategies To Avoid Writer’s Blocks

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.

me_on_the_laptopThe 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.

The First lesson of The Art of Being

me_on_the_laptopWe all think about our destiny, especially this time of year. We look back on our past year and then we look forward to the following year and make resolutions that within a few days we leave behind. One problem that we often have is that we are either reminiscing about the past or feeling guilty about the past or we are day-dreaming about the future.

It is no wonder that we believe that we simply are what we are, that life just happens. That somehow it all relates to luck and being born a certain way. It’s as Forest Gump’s mother said, “Life is a box of chocolates, you’ll never know what you’ll get.”

We can’t change the past, and there’s really nothing that we can do about the future. For the most part it is as she said. “you never know what you’ll get.”

We call that destiny and we feel powerless because change is not something that happens without effort. However, there is a concept called the butterfly effect. Basically it has to do with the idea that on small butterfly flapping its wings can change the weather all over the world. The concept suggests that a small change now can make a big difference later.

It’s as the old Chinese proverb says, “The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago, the second best time is now.”

As Forest Gump himself determined at the end of the movie, it’s not just destiny that determines our future, sometimes we also affect what happens.

It all reminds me of the serenity prayer which says:

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Most of the time people associate this with the attitudes and actions of other people, but we can also us this saying as we look at our past. We cannot change our past, we can only reflect on it and learn from it, but we definitely cannot change it. Therefore, why is it that we beat ourselves up over it? We need to accept it and move on. It is easier said than done.

In addition, if we do the same thing today as we have always done, we will end up with a future that reflects on what we’re doing now. We cannot change the future, because we often continue doing as we’ve always done and expecting different results. Or if we do decide to make changes, we try to change everything all at once only to burn out as soon as we come against resistance to those chances. However, by making small changes today, by learning to be a little bit better at being who we are today, we can become a better person tomorrow.

We cannot change the past. It is the one thing that is set in stone. We cannot live in our future. It hasn’t happened yet.We can only live in the now. What I did in the past determines where I am today, and what I do today will determine where I will be in the future. The only real day I have is today. I was in the past.  I will be in the future, but I am being who I am today. I am writing this in the morning of the first Monday of the New Year. What happens the rest of the year will depends on what I do today. I can either let it slip away, or I can learn to be who I am today. Any goals I have for the future can only be done by being a person of action today. That is the first lesson that I have learned about the art of being.

My Search for my Voice

 On Kathryn Craft’s blog post, 5 Things Readers Want from Novelists on Social Media on the Writers in the Storm blog, she relays five ways that novelists can engage readers with their online media. She (1) wants to be entertained, (2) be challenged to think for herself (3) be exposed to the new and different (4) receive news updates related to new books and career milestones, and finally (5) she wants the writer to give her hope. She does not want to hear the negativity of the book world, she wants to be lifted out of the rabbit holes that life often gives us.

Searching to perfect my  my writing voice.

Searching to perfect my my writing voice.

Instead of writing about writing, I want to write about things that people other than writers can identify with. I want to write about the ideas that my husband and I discuss on a daily basis. For instance, this idea comes in our conversations quite often. I read somewhere that everything that we “feel” comes from either “love” or “fear”. Those basic feelings mix with the random thoughts in our minds to create the myriad of emotions that we feel in our hearts. What if we started looking at every feeling that we have as based in either love or fear? For instance, I love writing, it is my passion, but there are aspects of writing that I’m afraid of. For instance, I am afraid to step out and do many of the things that I know I need to do to make my writing business successful. I tend to want to play it safe and that doesn’t lead to success in the writing arena, does it? What I need to do is to learn to love myself enough to recognize that I have what it takes to make it in the writing world, and to love the writing enough to allow it to bravely step out into the world and show its abilities.

I think that that is the artistic side of me that has difficulty presenting my precious babies to the world. I believe that what I am doing is great, that it is worthy of notoriety. My problem is: What if not everyone agrees with me. What if someone tells me that this work, that I have invested my whole life into is not good enough?  I feel that as a writer, I am a type of artist, and as an artist, my work is personal. When someone criticizes the art, that person is criticizing me.

That is why it is difficult for a writer to toot his or her own horn in marketing. The problem is, in today’s writing market, the writer has to be his or her own sales person as well and that goes against the nature of the artist. What an author needs is a manager similar to the manager of an actor or musician. We need to think outside of the traditional set ups that worked in the past. I am a writer. I don’t want to be a salesperson. I want to entertain as a story teller.  The question for me is how to I make that happen? How do I create a structure in my life that allows me to be able to use my writing to tell stories, to allow the creative juices flow? How do I keep from being mired down into the cesspool of begging people to buy my books? Who is the advocate for the Indie writer who wants to sit behind her computer and tell the stories that she wants to tell?

I

I’d rather be writing than trying to figure out how to meet a quota of books sold, or trying to find the next sales venue or trying to figure out how to get people on social media back to my website to buy what I have written. I hope the reader of this blog forgives me as I try to get away from the writer blog and allow me to evolve as a writer.

During this past week, I have published three hubs on Hubpages two of which have been awarded as Editors Choice hubs. The editor’s choice hubs were:

An Author’s Human Resource Department 

What is the difference between GMO, Hybrid, and Heirloom seeds?

The last hub that I wrote this week was:

Where to Get Canning Jars

Does the cold weather have you trapped indoors  this weekend? How about curling up with a good novel historical novel. My novels When God Turned His Head and Soldiers Don’t Cry are now available for Kindle download.

Resolving Changes in the New Year

Many times in the past I have resolved any number of goals only to give up on them a few days into the new year. In the past I have resolved to lose weight, quit smoking (I did quit smoking almost 23 years ago, but it wasn’t because of a New Years Resolution that I had made.), get more organized and exercise but to no avail.

I resolve to finish what I have already started.

I resolve to finish what I have already started.

This year, I have decided to do something a little different. This year, I am going to limit myself to changing two very specific underlying habits. I will evaluate on a daily basis the progress that I made in changing both habits. In addition,  I plan to evaluate the progress I have made by the end of each month.

Finishing What I have Started

The first habit I want to change is the idea that I do not finish things as I should. I have a lot of things that I need to finish and if I don’t start anything new,I am almost certain that I could work the whole year and never run out of things to do. In July I am scheduled to finish my liberal arts degree so that will be one huge project that I will finish this year without even stressing about adding it to my resolutions. In addition,  I have several novels that I started in NaNoWriMo that I want to finish. My current project is A Coward’s Solace.  I hope to have the second draft of that book finished by May 1, 2014. I have research that I can create into hubs for Hubpages, and I have several nonfiction books that I can finish as well. I plan to continue to write two Hubpages a week for the entirety of 2014.   I have craft projects that I have started, I have book marketing plans that I still need to implement. I also have a number of books I need to read both on my bookshelf and on my Kindle. I have numerous of files on my computer that I need to do in which I need to finish using, or I will either  delegate the task to someone else to finish, or I will need to determine that the opportunity to use whatever it is has passed and I need to discard the project. In addition, there are a number of projects that I told others that I would help them work on. I need to live up to those things that I agreed to do. As I said, I have things to finish.

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Becoming More Loving

That leads me into my second resolution. I will get into the habit of loving more. I need to learn to love myself more. I’m not saying that I need to “look out for number one” more. That is not to say that I should excuse the things that I have done wrong and sweep them under the rug. What I am saying is that I need to learn not to self-sabotage because of guilt or shame. I need to let go of the past and forgive myself of my past wrongs.  I have used personal unforgiveness as an excuse not to do the things that I know that I should be doing.  I need to recognize that the opposite of love is not hate, but fear. After all, doesn’t perfect love cast out fear?

I need to learn to submit myself more to what my creator has destined for me to be doing. Jeff and I were talking this morning about Forest Gump and where at the end of the movie he answered the question of whether we are destined or if we choose what we do in our lives. He said that he thought it was both. I know that God has a destiny for me and I desire more than anything to choose that destiny that I was meant to fulfill. I choose to follow that destiny–the destiny of love.

I have always seen myself as a Christian, but lately I have been rather distressed with how Christians are portrayed in the media. However, I don’t see the the problem as originating from the media I see the problem as originating with Christians ourselves. This reminds me of one of my Dad’s poems called Faults:

When it comes to faults in others,

We use our eyes tis true,

But to the faults which are our own,

We use our eyelids too.

When confronted with a question like do you view homosexuality as sin, I have determined that whether or not another person sinned,  is none of my business. God tells me not to judge another person. My responsibility is to love them and judge my own sin. I have determined that what another person does in the confines of his or her bedroom is not my concern. It is the business of that individual, that individual’s partner, and God. My job is to love that person and to introduce that person to the God of love, nothing more and nothing less. I’ll leave God to deal with that person’s spiritual condition. God is far better at it than I could ever be.

This way of thinking brings me back  to the rubber band bracelets a number of years ago that had  WWJD stamped in them. The WWJD stood for What would Jesus do? So what did Jesus do? He loved people, he didn’t condemn them. That’s what I want to do. I want to love others like Jesus loved them. Today, this first day of 2014, I resolve to begin down the path of love.

If I follow through on just these two things, I know that I will have a Happy, Productive 2014!