“inspire, verb: from the Latin, inspirare, to breathe onto or into”
I suggest to you that writer’s block does not exist. That it will, like the boogeyman or shame, go away if you refuse to believe in it. Healing is often about replacing bad beliefs with good ones. With this in mind, I invite you to think of your imagination, your will to write, as a breath, and that on some days, that breath is meant for other things. Sometimes you will give it to prayer, or to CNN, to the praise of a child, to a shout to chase off blues, to the quiet permission to tidy your space or to buy new shoes, or to a whisper to yourself in the mirror that today you are going to be ok no matter what. Inspiration is not about waiting for life to breathe onto you, it is about what you get back when you breathe into life. What often happens is that we writers—after finally admitting that we are indeed writers—want to have our voice in the world already, sometimes before we are sure of what we want to say, or even before we even have anything to say at all. The Writer in us, this fluff of self-importance, is a person who says things. And, the instant, measurable attention of social media amplifies the pressure. The result is that now, The Writer is a person who says things that people judge…publicly. So, if you are not writing when you want to, it is quite likely because you want to be a person who says things well rather than a person who just says things. After all, everybody says things, so, we fear being ordinary. This is a phobia. An irrational fear. Writers are never ordinary. Everybody may say things, but writers say them with craft to change hearts and minds in a way that conversation, whining, and gossip cannot. But, it can only be real writing when you have something to say. The desire to give birth to a loudness in the world without procreating with the inhale phase of breathing is a gateway to feeling choked or muted or mangled in our written speech. The frustration is inevitable when we try to be virgin birth. We become our own myth. We have a problem. We tell ourselves we are Writers with a Block. Your Excalibur pen, stuck in stone.
You can free your instrument immediately: expand the definition of Writer to a person who says things when they are ready to be said. Writing without readiness is babble. It is the imitation of writing. It is ego. And, it is the kiln of your block. (This is not an indictment of freewriting, which I would label as having much to say until there is a way to say it well with less.) Writing without readiness is more about what we want to think of ourselves (“I’m a poet; poets produce poems”) than a hunger to truly create, to interpret our senses for others to understand. And, not knowing exactly how to say it isn’t blockage, it is the very process of writing: figuring out how to say what we finally know we want to say. This is why I ask you to own your inspiration—literally, the way you breathe onto life—as you punish yourself by calling your attention to other things a “block.” You are not blocked, you are doing other things you actually want to do; your breath—your creative wind—is always yours, and there are times when it will be trained on other corners of your world. The prayer, the child, the shoes. This is not a disease. It is your life. It is your necessary until it is no longer necessary. Embrace the exhale of this. And, even if you hold your breath—“I’m doing nothing”—you are still only moments away from the next cycle of inspiration. Think of what you are doing when you are not writing as the life you must live to make sure you have something to write. We do nothing that doesn’t satisfy some part of our being. Live the moment of what you do when you aren’t writing; the more present you are to it, the more it will feed you as a writer. Say thank you to your respiration. You are never blocked. You are preparing yourself to say something important, well. You are living.
And, you are always a writer, even if without a keyboard or a pen.
Writing is first choosing to breathe—to take the world into you new, and release it back, to imagine—and then choosing to make voice of that breath for the rest of us to hear. Do not believe in the boogeyman and he will vanish. You are not blocked. You are life. You are a writer. Trust that you will always write out loud when you are full to bursting with meaning, when every molecule of air within you is ready. Ready to see. Ready to say. Ready to form words.