Purging the blockage

If you’re like me, you have some unresolved issues floating around in your brainpan. These unresolved issues have never been written about in any real or substantial way because family. I have been essentially holding my writer’s tongue for my whole life because of that nagging concern of hurting someone. However, this is the exact wrong impulse and the longer I live, write, and teach about writing, I realize almost daily how wrong that thinking is, and how detrimental not only to storytelling, but also to the spirit, the muse, the swirling neurons that become writing ideas.

What I have discovered is a revelation to me that I hope you will consider if you are in a similar headspace: Purging the blockage is necessary to move forward AND to generate fresh ideas. The unresolved issues create a block that only writing can release. For instance, I really want to write about my garden in a philosophical way. But I find myself unable to do so even when surrounded by its vitality, beauty, life, and color. During my last writing group meeting, it occurred to me that my unresolved issues are the thing blocking my ability to see clearly, and think in a philosophical and not entirely trite way about my garden. My writing group confirmed this and encouraged me to start writing to clear the blockage.

My mental block is slowly being worked out in a creative nonfiction piece that I hope will be published eventually, but even the writing of it is freeing my mind substantially from the burden. I can only encourage you to do the same. My colleague and friend has this great writing strategy that I now use sometimes – and used to create the bits and pieces for the longer anti-mental-block essay: She calls these bits and pieces “islands.” I just love this concept.

An island is a short snippet, an anecdote, a partially developed scene. A conversation. Something small, bite-sized. It may only take 15 minutes to write it out. Maybe you have a flash of insight about one moment in your story – write that island. Nothing else, just that one island. My friend has used this to great success – she showed me a large stack of printed paper the other day – the accumulation of islands she’s been writing for a couple of years now. The stack looks like a manuscript – at least in size and weight. She obviously has some work to do to bring these islands together into a longer, more cohesive piece, but what a genius idea!

However you decide to tackle your blockage, I can only recommend starting today. You will feel so much better. And with each anecdote, conversation, and moment that you write, you will feel physically lighter as the burden starts to lift. The idea of writing everyday is a romantic one and, some would say, a practical necessity for anyone who wants to be a writer. I say, do what you can when you can, but keep at it whenever you can. And don’t let the blockage fester – release it for your own benefit, even if it never sees an editor’s inbox.

Start the purge today! 🙂

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