On Writer’s Block and Unhindered Genius

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I was reading an article about writer’s block and facing the blank page. It was several articles, actually, on Brain Pickings, a blog that I’ve come to really love.

I watched a video in the article which had eight different writers explaining what staring down the blank page meant to them. One writer’s thoughts struck me. American fiction writer Phillipp Meyer said that the blank page doesn’t exist. What exists instead is our insecurity – our insecurities that what we write won’t match our ideal or our insecurities that the conditions in which we want to write are just or right yet. There is no blank page. There is no writers block.

I don’t think “writer’s block” actually exists. It’s basically insecurity — it’s your own internal critic turned up to a higher level than it’s supposed to be at that moment, because when you’re starting a work — when the page is blank, when the canvas is open — your critic has to be turned down to zero… The point is actually to get stuff on paper, just to allow yourself to kind of flow. It is only by writing that you’ll discover characters, ideas, things like this. (Philipp Meyer)

So how do you overcome this self-perceived writer’s block? Just start writing. Write whatever is in your head and keep writing.

As a writer, your job is to write. Anything else, absolutely anything that keeps you from doing this one action, is a hindrance. No worrying. No fucking around, no doting, no twiddling your thumbs. Stop trying to be perfect (you’re not perfect and you will never be). In fact, “perfect” doesn’t exist.

You have to be willing to shovel out crap. That’s why I always think my past writing is embarrassing. Because it is! But guess what? I wrote more back then than I do now. That was back when I could tell everyone I was a writer during those awkward ice breakers and not feel like a sham.

You have to be willing to write like shit. You have to be that unhindered genius: that wide-eyed, curious child that doesn’t know any better and just keeps taking in information and putting out creation, without any of the anxieties and worries that plague us as adults. It reminds me of another Brain Pickings article I read on the genius of childhood.

I look back at the things I did when I was younger and I’m amazed. In high school, I auditioned for a play by singing up on stage and performing a monologue! I rode all sorts of death-defying roller coasters at the theme park King’s Island with fear in my heart but I pushed through it anyway. I even talked to all sorts of people and made all sorts of friends.

Where did that courage go? Or is it a blindness or ignorance to what bad could happen? Is it healthy and safe to have that? Is that where the genius of childhood lies? How can we tap into that again?

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