Please welcome Dr. Niamh Clune.
Dear Doctor!!! Writer’s Block. What is it? And how do I cure it?
As I believe creativity comes from the Inner world, it is to the inner world I turn for answers.
Sometimes a writer falls into musing rather than writing. The blank page stares back seemingly remonstrating the fact that we haven’t come up with anything yet. We make a beginning, but the thread leads nowhere. And if we do manage to write something, it is quickly deleted for not living up to expectations or being good enough. ‘Here I am, Now I’m gone,’ says the little cursor as it flickers on and off, blinking, waiting, making us feel useless and in need of direction.
This inertia makes it impossible to find the thread of a beginning. Perhaps, we haven’t given our idea enough time to cook. Writing is a heuristic process. By that, I mean just because we intuit an idea, it doesn’t mean it is ready to be given birth. It is but a half-shaped thing, tacit, unformulated – pre-verbal. It has yet to be structured. The flesh must live on the bones.
An idea needs time to develop into something marvelously expressed and unique. A heuristic process falls into six basic phases: Initial Engagement, with which my little story is particularly concerned, immersion, incubation, illumination, explication, and creative synthesis.
The Initial Engagement demands that we are wide open in surrender to the thing in itself. It means temporarily moving Will out of the way. Using the Will to make something happen dominates Psyche causing her to close, to inhale, rather than to express. The Will engages a different part of the functioning mind. We enter ‘Doing’ rather than ‘Being’ mode. Rather than Psyche having permission to stream unfettered, we enter into a painful conflict. The, should-I-do-this-should-I-do-that, gremlins rise from the unconscious to rob us of creativity and spontaneity. Psyche freezes in a passive and congested state of inertia.
When in conflict, the tendency is to hammer addictively at the idea, as though we were blacksmiths forging something from steel. Trouble is, a good blacksmith prepares his material. He heats it first in the fires of alchemy until it is ready for shaping. Likewise, an idea needs to be prepared and to cook into something that serves intended purpose.
I often counsel people to trick Psyche into yielding her fruits. Psyche cannot be forced. A direct assault never works. Psyche delivers in her own time. Sometimes, all we can do is walk away from the blinking, blind cursor that cannot yet see the words. Release the idea, walk away; disengage from conflict! Allow Psyche to mature undisturbed. Maybe circle. By that, I mean do other things, mind-map, read something, perhaps listen to music, go for a walk, get out of an obsessive frame of mind, anything that makes us leave conflict behind. In so doing, we create the space into which the idea might be born.
Often, the birth is quick, coming unbidden, out of nowhere. Everything falls into place. Sometimes I use Imaginal Catalysts – visualizations that guide people into the inner world and away from mundane demands and considerations. It is in this world that Psyche’s brilliance, ingenuity and power to transform resides.
In the world of imagination, we glimpse the soul of a thing. From that inner perspective, we are instantly in the realm of ‘feeling’ language – able to describe something more easily. ‘I feel,’ language allows us to turn on the creative tap. Though the water trickles slowly at first, it soon flows more easily and finds its way softly into life.
If the story has not been flowing, maybe we are being too self-critical. In truth, the critical beginning is always with Self.
Niamh was born in Dublin in 1952 – one of eight children. In 2002, she earned a PhD from Surrey University, UK, in “Acquiring Wisdom through the Imagination.” She has been described as a polymath! She is a writer, teacher, spiritual psychologist, award-winning social entrepreneur, environmental campaigner and award-winning writer of songs. Niamh has lived and and worked in Africa for Oxfam, UNICEF and World Food Programme, which she describes as one of the defining moments in her life. She is the author of The Coming of the Feminine Christ. Her latest publication, Orange Petals in a Storm, is the first in the Skyla McFee series.
Niamh is very active on the internet at Orangeberry Books Collective and blog. She is a featured author at Love a Happy Ending. Niamh has her own blog at Niamh Clune Writes and has a Facebook fan page at Niamh Clune Books. Find her on Twitter. Her novel Orange Petals in a Storm is available here. Listen to Niamh’s enchanting vocal on YouTube.
Opening photo – Blazentrade, Photobucket.com