No blocks, no muse, just writers
I've said it before and I'll say it again: I don’t believe in writer’s block.
It's not because I think writing always comes easily or because I’m trying to tough-love my students, my writing friends, or myself into feeling inspired. If only! And I know many writers who feel differently, and that's ok. Just bear with me for a moment.
Few elements of a writing life are better understood by the general masses of non-writers than the concept of writer’s block, the state of non-writing. That bothers me. I refuse to believe in it because everyone else seems to, and because not believing in something takes away some of its power over us, right? (Asking for a friend who is me.) I refuse to believe that some unseen force that I have no control over can “block” me from this thing that I do and love, just as I refuse to believe that my inspiration similarly comes from an invisible, uncontrollable source.
No blocks, no muse. Only me, my desire to express myself creatively, the ideas I have, and the ones I haven’t realized yet. If I’m writing, great. If I’m not, but want to…well, that’s why writing prompts exist.
New writing prompts from the Center teachers
At the Center, we love writing prompts. We know some people don’t, and that’s ok. But we do, because we think the most important thing is to get to the page, no matter what comes of it. Process over product! Prompts help jump-start the process. We do a monthly photo writing prompt contest. We close most blog posts with an exercise or prompt. And we share a prompt on social media every Friday, based on a collection of them compiled by all our teachers. In fact, we recently wrote a whole new set of prompts, but with a twist: They are all wellness themed.
My disbelief in writer’s block is almost as strong as my core belief in the power of writing (of creative expression in general) to heal and nurture us. Writing IS wellness, I wrote in a post a few years ago:
“The act and process of writing has well-documented mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual health benefits. A finished piece of writing might make readers feel good, but the process of writing it might make the writer feel good, too.”
Writing can help us cultivate calm. We can apply some of the basics of meditation to our writing practices to increase focus and clarity of thought. I think documenting both gratitude and grievancescan be comforting, productive, valuable. I know that writing helps us be present and savor the moment, and that improving our inner monologue—i.e., “rewriting” some of the stories we tell ourselves—is a way to bring a growth mindset to our writing practices.
Exploring the connection between the writing and wellness communities is a big part of the Center’s philosophy. In that spirit, we’ve updated the “year of weekly writing prompts” document that we offer to all new students and email list subscribers by writing 52 new wellness-themed writing prompts, organized under five categories: Heal, Energize, Rest, Dream, and Nurture. Examples include:
“Think of a situation in which you were wronged or treated badly and rewrite the pivotal scene with a more favorable outcome.”
“What physical feat would you attempt if you knew you couldn't be hurt? What does fearlessness feel like?”
“If your entire life force was run on a battery, what would that battery be made of? Write it like a recipe for your healthy existence.”
We intend for writing from these prompts to be both a creative and mindful practice. And with so many possible paths for a new piece of writing, how can we be blocked?
Join our email list community to get a link to download this free prompts document. If you’re already receiving our weekly emails and you still want this doc, send me an email to request the download link.
We hope it helps you write well and be well.
Want to receive tips and inspiration like this in your inbox every Sunday morning? Join our email list community! You will receive weekly advice, a year’s worth of weekly writing prompts as a FREE download, and be eligible to participate in our monthly photo prompt contest for a chance to share an original piece of writing with our community of more than 2,500 writers.