A Doubt-free Writer’s Block

When I am more dedicated to a regular practice of writing, I’m often more paralyzed by doubt than a lack of ideas. This recently changed after the recent Jukai Sesshin that I wrote about in the last post.

An unfinished painting, long paused due to a block. This year I’ll finish it. – Rentai

I’m not immune to writer’s block, though, if it really is such a thing. Today I sat in front of my computer, ready to practice my writing through a post, and felt stuck for ideas. Hence the idea here. So does writer’s block really exist?

Sometimes I think it’s an idea that dissolves. Try to grab that writer’s block and hold it in your hand. Picture in your mind that little metaphorical wall that represents a blocking of creativity. It tends to fade when imagination is applied to it. It melts with a little bit of humor and play, even if all that’s left after you’ve gotten past it is a post about not much at all.

We easily put things in the way of our own creativity, and most of the time it’s completely unnecessary. We say we’re not artists, so we can’t do it. We say we’re not poets, so we don’t try writing a poem. We focus on all the things that get in our way, and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. I’ve got decades of practicing this kind of pointless silliness.

What would happen if you decided it didn’t matter how “good” your work is? If you just decided that you were going to go ahead and write a little thing or dabble with some paints, maybe getting more on the floor than the canvas? What is lost in the attempt other than perhaps a little supply funds? Your time is never lost. We are creative beings with thoughts and feelings and crazy ideas and beautiful concepts to express. Or we have ugly ideas that we need to get out onto the page or the canvas rather than bottle them up, ideas like “I’m not good enough” and “my life sucks” and ten thousand other things that bubble up in our thinking.

If it stays bottled in you, I think you cheat yourself of opportunities to express what needs to be expressed. Let it be imperfect. Let the paint muddy, the ink smear, the document on your computer have typos you missed or misspellings you thought were right.

Just feel it, say it, sign it, paint it, write, draw, sing, dance, dream, believe out loud. What is lost in these acts? Nothing.

Good morning, by the way. I hope your day’s pretty grand.

By J. Parrish Lewis

J. Parrish Lewis was born and raised in Maryland. In his youth there, he and his brother had many adventures in the dogwood forests near his home. His nostalgia for these adventures has strongly influenced his characters, their relationships, and their perspective on the world they inhabit. He moved to California’s coast to earn his degree in communications and now lives with his family in the San Joaquin Valley. Lewis is profoundly deaf and uses American Sign Language to communicate. He enjoys hazelnut coffee, captioned movies, and walking his dog.

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