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Creativity coach, writing and creative process instructor, speaker, author of Around the Writer's Block: Using Brain Science to Write the Way You Want (Penguin/Tarcher 2012) and Dancing in the Dragon's Den (Red Wheel Weiser), Teaching Artist at the Loft Literary Center.

10 Ways to Break Writer’s Block – Literally


Some flowers blossom only after a fire

“Every act of creation is first of all an act of destruction.” – Pablo Picasso

Creation and destruction are opposite ends of the Transformation Continuum. You can’t create something without destroying something else. Create music, destroy silence. Create a garden, destroy weeds. Create a story, destroy all the other possible ways you could have told that story.

We’re trained to think that creativity is good and destruction is bad. So we keep trying to be more creative while repressing the destructive energy that comes with creation. This pattern of holding back causes creative stagnation, aka writer’s block, resistance, procrastination.

When we want to create something new, we have to be willing to destroy the old. Because we don’t want to admit our capacity for destruction, many of us stall out. We are afraid to be destructive. It’s ironic, but the biggest obstacle to our creativity is our deep desire to be creative.

The degree to which you deny your capacity for destruction is the degree to which you limit your capacity for creation.

Creatively Destructive Solutions

To break through this creative stagnation, you have to release that pent-up destruction energy. You need to literally break something. Or tear something up. Or cut, shred, burn, smash, demolish, flatten, dissolve, fracture, delete.

You need to consciously, intentionally destroy something. And you need to do this regularly.

In no particular order, here are 10 candidates for destruction:

  1. Delete emails
  2. Destroy clutter
  3. Smash glass or old vinyl record albums
  4. Weed, thin or prune your garden
  5. Eliminate office chaos (organize)
  6. Tear up old journals BUT ONLY IF you’re not emotionally attached
  7. Draw a picture of your Saboteur and shred it
  8. Kill bugs (the ones that are true pests, not the good ones)
  9. Cull the files in your cabinet
  10. Shred unneeded paperwork

What will you destroy today? Something tangible so that you can release pent-up destructive energy and expand your creative capacity… or your chance to write the way you want?

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