From William Garner's article on LinkedIn:
Writer's Block Is a Real Phenomenon That Resides in Your Subconscious
In all my years of writing, I’ve suffered from several different maladies and conditions but never the one we all fear and loathe: Writer’s Block. This doesn’t mean I don’t understand it, though, because I do. I’ve studied it in other people over the decades and have formulated my hypothesis about it and what causes it.
Writer's Block resides deep within your subconscious and can be accessed primarily through dreams and dreaming, and sometimes consciously by communicating with that nagging little voice at the back of your mind.
I’ve done experiments on myself to artificially induce Writer’s Block, and have been overwhelmingly successful. Those results were a dubious success, of course, because no one wishes to suffer from this dreadful disease of the subconscious, let alone for any extended period of time. But at least I saw it first hand.
When I stated above that I’ve never suffered from Writer’s Block, I meant it while I was actively writing, not experimentally inducing it for the purpose of intensive study.
What Are Some of the Probable Causes of Writer’s Block?
There is no one cause, because Writer’s Block may surface slowly or all at once at any point in the writing process. If you’re at the very beginning, with not even a storyline in mind, and you can’t write even write that first word, then the cause may be lack of passion, direction or drive.
Of course, one of the worst causes is wanting desperately to write but not having anything to write about. The next is having too many distractions that cloud the whole dreaming, designing, building and writing process.
If you’re not passionate about what you do, then the art of writing becomes a chore, a drudgery. And you’ll likely not write much, or even finish your writing project. You must love what you wish to write about, be absolutely passionate about it, because this is a story that you will share with other people. Writing becomes a chore when you’re simply writing for money or a reason other than for passion.
I’ve read published books by authors who seemed to be doing it for the money, and it’s reflected in their work. I’ve also talked with authors who’ve told me their prime motivation was to earn lots of money. Some did it well, but their work wasn’t as good as others’ whose artwork was based on a deep-seated passion that underlies and fuels it.
Passion is a deep, often hidden desire to express yourself and what you have to say, what you believe in so fiercely that it must come out in some artistic form. And when it surfaces, it’s in the form of a book, your first book.
If you’re in the middle of actually writing your first book, and Writer’s Block creeps up on you and your work grinds to a halt, then the cause is more likely your not being in sufficient contact with your subconscious, such that when your subconscious needs to connect with your typist and it cannot, the subconscious gets pouty or just plain angry and closes down for a period of time.
This is the time you need to take a step back from your work and ask yourself: How am I not in good contact with my subconscious now? What happened such that I lost contact? And how do I get back on track?
You could be stressed out at work and this is impinging on your writing at night or on weekends. Your family may be undergoing a crisis, something that takes you away from your work and your subconscious’s working for you on your book project. You must notice what the cause is and do whatever it takes to assuage the negative effects so you can get back to the fun business of writing your first book.
If You Suffer From Writer's Block, Ask Yourself This Important Question
“Am I still passionate about writing this book?”
Could be that you initially started your first book because you were inspired by a lover who came into your life, turned it upside down, and you fell in love so deeply that you got lost in all that passion. You began writing about it and then, out of the blue, your lover suddenly disappeared . . . along with the fiery passion that had driven you to embark on the journey to begin with.
This happens sometimes. It’s not the end of the world, although the pain is often unbearable, not just the loss of a loved one but also the loss of your passion for writing a book you thought you would finish and get out there for all to read and appreciate.
It may be a good idea, too, to write down the question, say it aloud before you go to sleep, so your subconscious will hear you and come up with some answers. If your subconscious isn’t paying you much mind, for whatever reason, you may consider taking a long break from your project, say, a month, then returning to it with a fresh look.
If you have somehow lost interest in your writing project, or if your passion has waned even a little, then you might want to consider trying another approach to writing this particular book, or choose another idea altogether. This doesn’t mean you should quit your current project. It may need to ferment a bit more, so put it aside and try something else, another story idea.
What Is Your Subconscious and How Do You Communicate With It to Overcome Writer's Block?
One of the greatest creations in the Universe, besides majestic planets like Earth and powerful energy sources like our sun, is the human subconscious. It is in direct communication with the Universe, which suggests it also communicates collectively with the subconscious of others.
You do not have to believe in this line of thought to write anything, even though I have injected small hints that you should consider it. Whatever you choose to believe, the fact is that you must give your writing sufficient time to develop. Time comes in days, weeks and months.
I’ve studied the human subconscious, mostly in myself, since I was a child, wondering what inner engine drove me to do the things I did. I didn’t have to think about doing certain things, I just did them. Sometimes they were rational and positive; other times, not so.
One item I discovered over the years was that there was a clear line between what I did consciously and how my mind functioned subconsciously. When I went to sleep each night, I knew there was a whole different creature that came alive and took me on endless journeys through space and time, introducing me to new thoughts, ideas, beliefs and ways of doing things in my life.
Your Subconscious, or Inner CHILD, is a Real Person Inside You
Nearly 15 years ago, I woke up one morning and scrambled out of bed to write something down. Whatever was in my head at that moment had to come out and it wasn’t going to wait for my bus driver, my typist, to take dictation. It was coming in a flood and that was that.
When I got to my notepad, my hand started scribbling things down. I wasn’t paying attention to what I was writing, I just took it on faith that I had to do this.
After I was done autowriting, I looked at what had emerged: a single word, along with details about each letter of the word. It was an acronym, CHILD:
C: the little Child in you, the curious wide-eyed being that looks at the world without filters and preconceived notions about anything. A little sponge that senses things with wonder and awe.
H: the true Heart in you, the purely subjective part, filled with every conceivable emotion known.
I: your Intuition or information-gathering system, the sensory apparatus that receives every possible stimulus in the Universe, much like a radio receives radio signals to produce spoken word and songs.
L: the cold, stainless-steel Logic that sees the world purely objectively, like a robotic computer that takes in and analyzes things in a totally impartial and neutral way, without emotion of any kind.
D: the little Demon in you, that mischievous entity that plays pranks and does impish things. Can sometimes be very destructive and hurtful.
These entities all comprise the human subconscious, which is the true engine that drives each and every one of us in our daily lives. They all work together and, depending on how one’s DNA is wired, sometimes for good and sometimes for evil.
I will not get into the moral implications of good and evil, only stating that they exist in all of us to some extent and, in others, they comprise their whole being. Sociopaths and psychopaths are an example.
Destiny or Free Will? Both!
We can communicate with what I term our Inner CHILD, or we can ignore it and just float through life, going wherever it takes us.
I contend that we do have a destiny. Each of us, when we are conceived (not born), have a certain imprint from those celestial bodies that mediate and modulate our behaviors; in fact, everything we do in life. This is imprinted onto our DNA when it first forms chemically in that single cell that will later become an individual being.
When we are first imprinted by the Universe, using celestiophysics, we are then given a map of destiny that propels us through life. Some of us follow this map without much thought. Others, like me, question it each day and consciously make a choice whether to follow that map or go “off-map” and do something that we were not initially programmed to do. Again, most people do not pay much if any attention to their map of destiny. They simply live life and go with the flow.
There is nothing wrong with this approach, but wouldn’t it be cool if you actually knew how it worked so you could use this invaluable tool to your advantage?
These thoughts bring me to my personal philosophy, Subism. It holds that the human subconscious is direct communication with the Universe, and that celestial bodies (planets, stars, whatever) directly and indirectly influence all life on earth. The philosophers of old weren’t familiar with celestiophysics, so they formulated their own ideas about how humans operate and function, and what makes us do the things we do. I suggest that we do all the things we do because of the strong, inexorable influences of celestiophysics, which we can to some extent manipulate and control.
I have often wondered why we spend so much time trying to read the minds of other people when we should be learning how to read our own and get in touch with our own subconscious.
How Do You Use Your Inner CHILD to Help You Write?
We can start with something we all agree on: we dream a lot. Sometimes you may not recall each or any dream, but your subconscious is actively dreaming, sending little (and giant) messages up to your conscious self to do certain things, avoid other things. Dreams are one method the subconscious uses to communicate with your conscious self.
Interestingly, when your subconscious presents a dream to you, it does so in very rudimentary language. We dream in metaphors and symbols and motifs, not in complete film-like visions. Our Inner CHILD only knows one method of talking to our conscious self, and that is in the language of a child, a small voice that expresses itself using little vignettes that represent small words and actions. Curiously our subconscious also uses phrases and sayings from books or passages we've read or from certain songs we've heard.
I’ve never heard of anyone dreaming in the language of an adult. Never. If someone tells you that they do in fact dream this way, it’s not a deep-sleep dream but a lucid dream, one you actually control because you’re partly conscious.
During a very difficult time in my life some years back, I had a recurring dream: a was sitting in a bus filled with other people. I wasn’t talking or interacting with those people, just sitting alone and minding my own business. Then the bus suddenly filled with water, as if we’d just plunged into the middle of an ocean. No one around me moved an inch or spoke anything to me or to each other. They all just sat there as the bus filled with water. I looked around, saw stone-cold faces on my fellow passengers, and tried frantically to get out.
And then the dream went lucid, where I could actually manipulate the dream in a semi-conscious state. I changed the dream so I got out of that sinking bus.
Since I had already known that my Inner CHILD was responsible for communicating with me, I then figured out a way to interpret what my subconscious was trying to tell me. I didn’t get it at first, so the dream stayed with me each night for a week or so, until I woke up and listened to my subconscious. To interpret my dream, which was in the language of a child, I used the thoughts, ideas and words of a child, say, of about four years old.
When I used this method, interpreting the dream in a child’s voice, the dream became clear: “I can’t get out and no one will help me.” Simple as that.
The dream told me that I was in a world of hurt and no one was coming to my aid, even when I actively asked for help. In the real world, I was on my own. I have a term for that: yoyo, which means "you’re on your own" when things get really tough for you. I was yoyo for a long time, until I realized what was actually happening, then when I figured out my temporary predicament, I was able to change how I thought, how I acted, and consequently the actions I took to climb out of that dark hole, from inside that sinking bus.
You may be quick to dismiss this as overly simplistic. Please do not. Instead, try it for yourself, using previous dreams you've had, and try to corroborate the newly interpreted message with how things worked out for you subsequently.
How Do We Use Our Subconscious To Cure Writer's Block?
Once you follow the prescription below, your Writer's Block will slowly dissipate and disappear altogether.
Learn how to feed your subconscious properly, to nurture it. You would do this with a human child, wouldn’t you? Your Inner CHILD is even more important. It’s the entity within yourself that guides you through every moment of your entire life. How could you not want to nurture such a being?
Your Inner CHILD is energetic and rambunctious, has a voracious appetite for new adventures and actions, so get out in the world and do stuff. Travel to new places, meet new people, eat new foods, explore new vistas. If you cannot afford to go to Europe or Africa, then explore your own town or city, or maybe drive to the next state and see what’s up there.
If those things are not in your current budget, then find a way to make it happen, now that you know your Inner CHILD needs these things. You need these things, too, dear Writer.
Your subconscious loves to run and jump and play around, so get out and exercise your body, even if it’s a long walk or hike. If you’re going to be a sedentary writer, then your subconscious will eventually rebel. Yes, I do know some overweight writers who do well, but they don’t last too long. Unfortunately, they die young and the being that dies first is their Inner CHILD.
This explains how people sometimes grow cold and distant, and they lose their humanity. In reality, they’re losing the most important part of them—their subconscious.
The CHILD inside you needs stimulation, and the world around you provides just that, so please take full advantage of your atmosphere and make it a daily routine to get out of your office and home and see different and stimulating sites, absorb what you sense all around you, roll in the grass, get dirty and make mud pies . . . something. There’s a new movement out there that is telling all of us to “ground” ourself with the earth. Actually get down on the bare ground and let it touch your skin. The earth is one giant healing mechanism, so find out more about grounding and then implement your new-found knowledge.
What else? Take trips to local stores, shops, museums, businesses that produce something interesting to see designed or in the process of being built. Feed your imagination ‘til its cup runneth over. There are no penalties for overfilling that cup. When your subconscious has had enough, it will tell you.
Go to shows, films, performances and watch the beautiful artwork of people who are just like you: they have a dream, they design and build it, then they do whatever it takes to implement it. Seeing the art of others is inspiring on all levels, especially when they’re actually creating it.
Visit the local hardware store and look at all the tools and items that are used to build things. Check out a restaurant and see how they prepare their meals. I feel it a grand experience to observe artists designing and building things, because it’s not unlike what I do when I create my own stories. In fact, watching other artists may be the most inspiring thing you can witness for yourself when you go out on these little excursions. I love watching glass-blowers! Especially the truly great ones who produce the world’s finest artisan glasswork, those Murano artists in Italy! Wow, they’re amazing to watch. When I’m done witnessing world-class art in motion, I leave with an all-body tingle that’s right up there with the best orgasms ever. Now that is a powerful thought, huh? What an inspiration!
The point is to experience how people outside you and your world of friends and acquaintances conduct their lives and do what they do. When you do, you become a part of their work, too, and you fuel their own desires and passions. You become a part of their artistic process. Let these artists do the same for you.
If your story is set in a beachside resort, go find one and write from there. If you can’t afford to be there, then find a nice area at a beach where you can write and be inspired. Maybe your story takes place in a cool dive bar. Find one and soak up the atmosphere for a few hours. Try not to drink too much or you may not get as much work done. Oh, and please remember: beer all over a keyboard is major notgoodness.
Get Off Your Tush and Connect With Real Human Beings
People make the world go round. And round. When I sometimes forget to get out of my office, which I love, I find that I miss the company of good people. So I jump out of my chair and go find someone to say hello to, ask questions about them, take an interest in another human being, share my own thoughts and experiences with them.
Connecting with another human being is one of the most important acts we should perform on a regular basis. When we don’t, we get lonely and grumpy. Your Inner CHILD does not make a good companion when it’s idle, lonely, cranky and without proper stimulation from the outside world. Use is or you lose it.
Eat something different each day. It doesn’t take much to break up your diet, so try a new cuisine on Friday night, share it with friends, savor every bite. Your subconscious will be as joyful as your conscious self, I promise you.
Considering all the nourishment I suggest above, one item is very clear: it all feeds your subconscious with new stimuli that will aid you in curing Writer's Block and help you write whatever you wish.
How Do You Listen to Your Inner CHILD When It Speaks to You?
First, let’s consider when your subconscious is actually trying to tell you something. An example: you’re sitting in a chair, writing away and you get this nagging voice inside your head that says you need a small pillow at your lower back. Don’t ignore it.
This is your subconscious telling you something: I want to feel comfortable when I tell you this cool story to write.
Those little voices that creep up at all times of the day and night are the core of your subconscious trying to tell you something. You should listen to those voices. Now, if they tell you to go out and run over the first pedestrian you come across, I would think really hard before carrying out that command. If you listen to voices like that, someone will probably have you committed or take you out back and tie you to a tree. How’s that for grounding?
When you hear the calling of your subconscious, please take a listen, pay attention to what it is trying to say, then, provided the command is a reasonable one, please act on it. Once you start listening to your subconscious, it will say, “Aha, my human is finally listening to me! Way to go!” And, from that point forward, if you continue to listen to your subconscious, it will give you more and more great knowledge and information that will not only enhance your life, but also cure Writer's Block and help you write better.
Communicating with your subconscious is not that challenging. Again, if it tells you to do something and you do it, then you’re effectively communicating with your subconscious. Keep doing it. And when you go to bed at night (or during the day, depending on your lifestyle and schedule), ask out loud and write down some questions or topics that you want your subconscious to mull over while your typist and bus driver are passed out for eight hours. When those guys are comatose, your subconscious is hard at play on its own eight-hour vacation.
How To Train Your Subconscious to Work For You
The more you listen to your subconscious, the more it will talk back and provide the information you need. You can train it to give you more and more information by asking questions, writing them down, then sleeping on them. Keep asking the same questions over and over until you get what you want. When asking questions or asking for help, please be kind to your subconscious.
Remember: your subconscious is a child and understands when you are being impatient or downright tedious. You know how people say to treat yourself kindly and gently? They’re really saying you should be kind and gentle to your subconscious.
The reason I suggest you say what you want out loud is because when you speak it and hear your own words, your brain stores and processes that information in different areas, which work in unison to come to your aid. When you physically write it down, that too is stored and processed in another part of your brain. When you read your own words, that is also stored and processed in yet a different part of your brain.
These working areas are also complex computing centers that help to enhance what you desire and wish for, and they help your subconscious make those wishes and dreams come true.
Training your subconscious involves all the above steps, plus actively talking to it, and not just before you go to sleep. You can have meaningful conversations with your subconscious, not only asking questions but also asking for guidance and assistance. The more you communicate with it, the more it responds and with better and more relevant information that will help and guide you accurately.
The only time my subconscious has failed me is when I have ignored it. That fact, in itself, I find fascinating and compelling. My subconscious has never steered me in the wrong or in a negative direction. Ever. When I’ve chosen to go off-map, then sometimes I’ve gotten into trouble. Yes, I’ve learned a lot from those experiential experiences, especially when off-map, but I’ve also paid a steep price for venturing off my Universal path.
Talk to the Individual Components of Your Subconscious
You also can talk to the individual components of your subconscious. It takes time and effort, but you can do it. I’ve often consulted my Logic element to get an objective view on a particular subject. And when I’ve needed to discuss something about my love life, I’ve talked to my Heart.
Having five separate ultra-complex computer modules inside your head is like having a team of experts of the Universe at your beck and call. Thing is, you must treat that team nicely and with great respect or it will ignore you and your queries. Your subconscious will never be vengeful and send you down a wrong path; only your conscious self does that.
The worst you can expect from your subconscious is silence, and that is the most crushing thing that could happen to your beautiful mind, not having the backing of one of the mightiest beings in the Universe.
This may be one of the causes of Writer's Block: your subconscious shutting down.
When Your Subconscious Goes Dark
When your subconscious fails to talk to you or communicate with you, something is very wrong. Remember that your subconscious is a child, so it needs special attention. Like I said, it will never steer you wrong, but it may ignore you. If it does, ask what’s up. Yes, really.
When you go to bed, write down that question, plus a few others: Are you okay? Have I done something really dumb to make you ignore me? What am I doing wrong here? How can I get back on track? Will you please help me?
The times I’ve had my subconscious go silent, they were when I was not treating myself well. I’ve had some challenging jobs in my life—scientist, Army Ranger, corporate security specialist—and each one has brought on a host of problems and challenges that drove me bananas at times. Sometimes after very difficult days, I would drink one too many beers, which is a great way to shut down one’s subconscious.
Point is, I abused myself and I paid for it, not only externally but also internally. Be kind and gentle to yourself, and your subconscious will thank you for it in ways you cannot even imagine now.
Your Subconscious Will Cure Writer's Block and Write Everything For You
All you need to do is nurture it and treat it like it’s the most precious thing in the Universe. It will help you cure Writer's Block, design your story, then guide your typist to get it all down on paper, virtual or real.
You must first master the inner workings of your subconscious before you can begin. Once you do, may you never ever suffer from Writer's Block again.