Melting Writer's Block

In Sense Writing, you follow the end of your pen, the tips of your fingers, the nerve endings in your body—the place where you end and the world begins is a fuzzy place full of possibility and story.
—Jean Rhode, Sense Writing student

Often, the way we have been taught to learn is through correcting mistakes and trying to improve immediately. When I was a dancer, we were expected to make and absorb corrections on the spot through will and repetition, which often just made me anxious.

In writing, many of us were taught at some point that there is a "right" way to structure our stories and express our ideas. We rewrite draft upon draft, trying to get it “right.” When this doesn't work (and it often doesn't), we find ourselves defeated and anxious, the flow of creativity eluding us. This can lead to a sometimes chronic state of inhibition and an inability to be present

Has this ever happened in your writing?

Sense Writing integrates principles of Somatic Education directly into the writing process and lifts the fear that causes writer's block. Physical and writing exercises work with the nervous system to interrupt body and language patterns of anxiety and inhibition, guiding you into greater ease in all the stages of writing.

One of the ways we do this is through built-in pauses and rests, when we leave our work and then come back to it. Doing this in structured and conscious ways, we discover that, in the rests and pauses, something vital is happening beyond what we can do through our own will or ambition. It’s as if there are little elves working below the surface who come out only when the hard-working cobbler in us sleeps.

The mathematician Henri Poincare called this elf part "the subliminal self," and William James called it "fringe consciousness." Whatever we call it, it has a great intelligence of its own and, the more we rely on it, the sharper its intelligence becomes. Paradoxically, the more we rely on it, the more trust we have in our own creativity.

So the next time you feel blocked, take a pause, and completely let go of what you’re doing. Instead, do a body scan, or walk your dog, or take a nap.  You might discover that, when you return, your inner elf has already done the work for you.

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Madelyn Kent, MFA, former playwriting and screenwriting professor at New York University/Tisch, specializes in physical approaches to creativity and is the...

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