Writer’s Block doesn’t exist. We only think it does because it’s much easier to blame an affliction outside of our control than name it for what it really is:
Shame. Fear. Confusion.
In The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron tells us to freewrite 3 pages every morning.
These are called “morning pages.” We’re supposed to write anything that comes to mind and ignore our inner editor as we go. We’re supposed to just dump out the contents of our scrambled, early morning mind onto the page and move on with our day. It’s supposed to be helpful to shake those cobwebs loose.
Natalie Goldberg offers a similar prescription in Writing Down the Bones except she impresses upon us that this kind of freewriting can and should be done anytime, anywhere when one is writing. Tap into “Beginner’s Mind” and your inner artist will be free.
I’ve done Cameron’s morning pages faithfully now for a year — and before that, off and on, for a couple of decades. I’ve been semi-faithful to Goldberg’s freewriting & composting method for almost THIRTY YEARS.
I want to write daily. I want to write daily. I want to write daily.
I don’t want to scribble and freewrite and “mind dump,” I want to WRITE daily.
SHAME: I see the prolific way some writers write and publish and even get famous and rich from their writing and I feel shame. I think something like, “what’s the point if I’ll never be like her?”
FEAR: I read something that sounds like something I’d write, something I’ve written and I cower, thinking, “Are my thoughts original enough? Are they good enough? Do they mean anything to anyone?”
CONFUSION: Is my first thought my best thought? Goldberg and Ginsburg would tell me it is. Or, do I need to labor and polish over every 500-word blog post (which seems antithetical to the form but okay… maybe?) What is blogging even? Why is anyone doing it anymore? The whole world is saturated with bullshit bullshit bullshit words — why add MINE to the mix? In the heyday of my writing so far, I’ve had a readership of about 12. If my daily writing is about connecting with my readers, I need more readers, right?
And before I know it, it’s been a month since I’ve REALLY written. Because of shame and fear and confusion — NOT because of “writer’s block.”
JodiAnn Stevenson lives in the U.S., in the Northwest Corner of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, on The Big Lake. Her writing has appeared in numerous venues since 1996. She is the author of three published chapbooks of poetry: The Procedure (March Street Press, 2006); Houses Don’t Float (Habernicht Press, 2010); and Diving Headlong Into A Cliff of Our Own Delusion (Saucebox, 2011). Her mixed-genre work Marina Abramovic Is My Mother is available in the form of a short-run podcast. She has also produced eight chapbooks of poetry for The Broken Nose Collective which she co-founded in 2013. JodiAnn was founder and co-managing editor of the feminist micro-press, Binge Press and its sister journal, 27 rue de fleures, from 2004 until 2017.
A (more or less) complete list of publications and appearances: