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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.

Weird Ways to Get Rid of Writer’s Block and Resistance

The next time you have a weird dream that makes no sense, celebrate! The brain practices what we need to learn and/or remember while we sleep. Nonsensical dreams are your brain’s way of practicing stepping beyond the limits of rational thinking.

Of course your rational, practical mind wants to call that kind of thinking “illogical” and therefore worthless. But the ability to see the unusual and unique in typical situations is essential to creativity.

Creative insight arises from the openness to see new ideas and make new associations. Creative geniuses don’t live in a different world, they perceive the world differently. They are not as bound by the brain’s default assumptions and prior experience. They learn to stop seeing/thinking what everyone else sees/thinks.

Researchers are working on a magnetic “creativity cap” that could give anyone temporarily access to the mental freedom of creative geniuses. Allan W. Snyder, Sophie Ellwood and Richard P. Chi are testing the effects of transcranial direct-current stimulation, a mild electric current that temporarily reduces activity in selected areas of the brain. (November/December 2012 issue of Scientific American Mind)

Their hypothesis is that reducing activity in the left anterior temporal lobe, an area that allows us to categorize or combine concepts, will “reduce the influence of prior knowledge” thus increasing creative problem-solving. So far, the results are encouraging.

In all likelihood, it’ll be years before you can buy a “magnetic creativity cap” to cure writer’s block or resistance, but in the meantime you can boost creative thinking with methods writers have been using for centuries:

  • Get into hypnagogic (sleeplike) states by staring off into space, at the flames of a fire or at a mandala
  • Welcome the weird — weird dreams, weird ideas, weird places or people
  • Relax your way into the writer’s trance (for more help with this consider my upcoming Entering the Flow class)
  • Let yourself nap or nearly nap (as I wrote in Around the Writer’s Block, “Thomas Edison is well-known for napping with ball bearings in his hands; as he relaxed, he would drop the ball bearings, the noise would wake him and he would record whatever insight he had in that moment.”)
  • Step away from words with Process play like sketching, doodling, making a collage, manipulating clay or play-doh, or riffing with a musical instrument,
  • Meditate
  • Ask “what if” questions about the things you take for granted (e.g. What if there is a way to make tofu or liver taste good? What if it was possible to live someone else’s memories? What if cows revolted?)
  • Surrender expectations, set your intention and keep showing up!

How do you let yourself see differently? What brings you into your writing?

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6 Comments on “Weird Ways to Get Rid of Writer’s Block and Resistance”

  1. Brenda Smith April 11, 2016 at 1:56 pm #

    What a wonderful topic of discussion because this surely is something most bloggers go through – writers block 🙂

    I liked the ways you shared here, and while I do follow most of them when I get blank sometimes, I really believe that if you enjoy blogging and it becomes your passion with time, you have less of these blocks. I guess those who put up daily posts or every alternate days might be facing this problem.

    The key according to me lies in the fact that you should write when you are focused in your work. I don’t think your mind would turn blank then, or you wouldn’t know what to write. But I guess it differs from person to person too.

    Speaking of myself, I guess being a professional freelance writer and blogger – my work is to write! And I write a lot, whether it’s my blog posts, project work, or even replying to the comments on my blog (which are mini posts in themselves!) – all of that is writing. I never really get into such blocks, or perhaps my mind is always floating around with creative ideas that are just waiting to be penned down. However, when these is work pressure and pending projects etc., and when there’s stress all around – I do experience writers block, though it’s rare.

    Thanks for sharing these ways with us.


    • rosannebane April 11, 2016 at 4:53 pm #

      Thanks Brenda! Resistance can show up in many ways, sometimes subtle, sometimes in your face. I agree that loving your work and keeping your overall stress level low, minimizes the likelihood of blocks or other forms of resistance. I’m gratified to hear you like my blog!


  2. Daphne Gray-Grant November 13, 2012 at 8:32 am #

    One of the best things I can do is to mindmap. For anyone who is unfamiliar with this, check out the following article: http://bit.ly/HHN5gb If you subscribe to my brief, weekly newsletter, Power Writing (which is free) you’ll also receive a free e-booklet on mindmapping. Go to my website, http://www.publicationcoach.com and simply enter your name & email address in the box under my photo (on any page)


    • rosannebane November 13, 2012 at 2:18 pm #

      Thanks Daphne – I agree mindmapping is a great tool!


  3. Books & Art - Spirit & Soul - Lesley Fletcher November 12, 2012 at 12:48 pm #

    Hi Rosanne, I have been enjoying your articles and always look to share them on Twitter but alas! there is no button to be found 🙂

    I recently started taking my little Sony recorder with me when I do out. It has become apparent that driving loosens up my thought processes.


    • rosannebane November 12, 2012 at 4:57 pm #

      I’ll check into getting a Twitter button on the blog. Thanks for the tip.


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