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Writer's Block: Where the Woulda-Coulda-Shoulda Family Lives

Once upon a time there was .... hmmm, and now what?


We've all heard of writer's block. It's that particular state characterized by the inability to generate ideas or figure out the next steps in writing. It is a state of being fraught with self-doubt and self-loathing. Trust me, this is the kind of 'block' in a neighbourhood where no one wants to live.



Crumpled sheets of paper next to writing pad

Metaphorically speaking, writer's block is the street that has the most forlorn-looking house - the one with the leaky roof, overgrown lawn and newspaper window coverings. You know the one. You've seen it before. Well, that's where I seem to be living right now - at least in terms of some of my on-going writing projects.


I'm a person who, among other things, actually does a lot of writing: business writing, copy writing, marketing writing, blog writing, and when I'm able, novel writing. My first book, Flour Garden, was completed in 2017 and soon thereafter I began the sequel. It doesn't take a math genius to realize that 6 years have now passed with no completion of that so-called sequel.

I'd been inviting the inhabitants of writer's block, namely Woulda, Coulda and Shoulda, right through the front door.

I could provide you with all sorts of reasons why over the last 6 years that so-called sequel is only now half finished: I was enrolled in graduate studies, getting my life coaching certification, running a busy e-commerce business, preparing for my International Coaching Federation exam, preparing for my TEDx presentation and so and so on and so on. But the truth of the matter is that that so-called sequel is sitting in writer's limbo - comfortably ensconced on an over-stuffed lounger, twiddling the time away somewhere under the leaky roof next to the newspaper-covered windows on writer's block.


But wait, I can hear you say, you wrote this blog article so all must be well. Truth is, that even this blog was challenging for me to write - but I managed to struggle through to completion. The same cannot be said for my sequel novel. As much as I want to fix the roof, mow the lawn, give those windows a good scrub and start working on my book's sequel, I barely seem to have the ability to lift a finger to type a few words.


And guess what I realized? This state of being is normal.


In the great scheme of life, it doesn't matter if you call it writer's block or career block or relationship block or macrame' block, all these blocks belong to the same neighborhood called: being human. Once I began to 'be human' with my lack of authorship, I began to see that the main thing blocking me was myself. I was simply getting in the way of the flow. And how was I doing that? I'd been inviting the inhabitants of writer's block, namely Woulda, Coulda and Shoulda, right through the front door.

All there is, is me. Breathing. In this moment.

Yes, high expectations of my own ability to write and what that writing would look and sound like have been causing a siphoning off of the creative flow. I was putting a kink in my own hose, so to speak. When I get like this (and trust me, it happens a lot) I do one simple thing. I focus on the present moment. What is it that I'm emotionally feeling right now? What am I thinking? How do I feel in my body? What does it feel like to just be me - right now?


When I dwell in the present moment all the weight and strain of my Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda's seems to melt away. All there is, is me. Breathing. In this moment.


From this perspective I feel lighter yet grounded. I feel like me. In this present moment there is no past, there is no future. There are no expectations or deadlines or regrets or hopes or projections or subtractions. And this is when I begin to notice the potential for expansion, room to grow, and, yes, words to be written with ease.


So, if you're feeling stuck on 'fill-in-the-name-block' my humble advise to you is to take a quiet moment, gently close your eyes, take a deep breath, let it out - and repeat. Focus on your breath. Allow any thoughts that come to mind to simply pass, as best you can. Maintain your breath focus and continue to remain present moment focused. This simple, mindful practice will allow you to take a vacation from 'fill-in-the-name-block' and venture into the great adventure of YOU in this wonderful present moment.


You'll be unkinking the kink your own hose and allowing the Woulda, Coulda, Shouldas to pass through the front door and straight out the back. Adios amigos!


Now...to breathe and to get on with a bit of writing :)


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