You stare at your blank screen.
Time is ticking.
Words won’t come. There’s no flow.
You try every trick you know to kickstart your writing, but nothing happens.
You feel frustrated and powerless. This is betrayal.
When your words won’t flow, you feel betrayed — abandoned by your creativity. Powerless to make your living as a writer.
But it’s not just about making a living.
You love to write. You’re motivated to write. You want to write with every fiber of your being. So when you can’t write, it hurts. Deeply.
Most remedies for writer’s block distract you — provide temporary relief. But they only skim the surface of what’s separating you from your words.
Your creativity rises from deep inside you. So you must go there to unblock your flow.
The Secret Source of Your Creativity
Creativity doesn’t come from your working mind.
Your working mind is the one that calculates, identifies, categorizes, reasons, thinks. Psychologists call this your “cognitive consciousness.”
While you need your working mind to organize and construct your writing, that’s part two of your writing process. First you must have ideas and inspiration.
Ideas and inspiration arise from the deeper levels of your consciousness. Your non-cognitive levels. They come from your creative mind — the one that feels just out of reach when you have writer’s block.
Unless you connect regularly to your deeper levels, over time you lose touch with them. They are still there, and you sense that they are still there, but you are blocked from them. Then you can’t write. At all.
Why Does Your Creativity Get Blocked?
Tension in your body blocks your ability to access your creativity.
The sneaky thing about tension is that you create and hold onto it without even being aware of it.
Much of what you do during the day — for work, for fitness, to manage your busy life — contributes to core tensions in your body. These tensions obstruct your creative mind.
When your body holds tension and stress, you can’t access the deeper levels of your consciousness. Your creative mind and creative flow are obstructed.
You become like the proverbial garden hose with a kink in it. As the kink tightens, the flow becomes more and more restricted — barely a trickle. At this point, most of us do one of two things: turn up the water pressure or turn the water completely off.
When you can’t write and you try distractions, either you shut down completely or you up the tension in your body, hoping to get a little more flow.
When you turn the pressure on and try to force inspiration, you’re using your working mind, and your creative mind shuts down. If you turn the pressure off with a distraction, after a while you might be able to get a few thoughts through the kink, but only a few. And it’s only a temporary solution.
Effective solutions to writer’s block involve unkinking the hose, permanently, and restoring your natural creative flow.
Dissolving tensions systematically in your body allows you to unkink your body, then your mind, then your creative flow.
The good news is that you need only one tool to do this, and you already have it.
The Ancient Secret to Unstoppable Word Flow
Did you know that ancient writers and philosophers could not read without sounding their words aloud?
Cicero, the brilliant philosopher who flourished around 63 B.C., in a letter to one of his correspondents, apologizes for not answering sooner. In this letter he explains that he couldn’t read his friend’s letter because “my throat was sore.” It never occurred to him that he could read silently and still be engaged with the words.
Ancient writers had scribes. Writers spoke their words aloud, and scribes wrote them down — taking dictation. Then the writers revised and restructured the written word from the spoken word.
People then were keenly aware of the power of the sounds of their words — the connection of their words to their breath. Even when, in the Renaissance, people began to read silently, they still coordinated their reading with their breathing.
You still do this. You just aren’t aware of it. If you’re not convinced, try reading silently to yourself while holding your breath.
How does that work for you? Do you find your ability to hold onto meaning fade when your breath stops flowing through your body?
That’s because you can’t see your words, you can’t feel them, you can’t hear them until you add your breath to them. Your breath gives life to your words, carrying them from the inside of you to the outside — into the world to touch you and others, literally, with their sound.
Because reading and writing have become silent, you’ve simply lost this connection.
Even when you read or write silently, your breath plays an important part in connecting your ideas and inspiration to your words — to your writing.
Your breath is the bridge between your inspiration, your ideas, your words, and your working mind which must structure them into a coherent piece of written work.
How to Unblock Your Creativity in Only 10 Minutes
The Latin root for the word inspire is “spirare” – which means “to breathe.” Inspire literally means “to breathe into.” That’s how intimate the connection between your words and your breath is.
That’s why using your breath to unblock your words is effective.
Dissolving the tensions in your body with your breath removes the kinks that block your creative ideas. Then your words flow – you liberate them, and they flow through your body and out on your breath.
You gradually unkink the garden hose.
All you need to do this simple practice is a chair, the floor, a timer, and ten minutes. If you are in a noisy space, ear buds or ear plugs would be helpful.
Step 1: Remove All Distractions
Turn off your phone. This is really important.
Make sure alerts and messaging are turned off. It’s critical when connecting to your inspiration that you not be interrupted. Interruptions will instantly disrupt the connection to your inspiration, and you won’t be able to get back to it without starting over.
Set a timer for ten minutes so your mind isn’t busy counting. Ideally you have a timer that works when your phone and messaging is off.
Step 2: Assume the Position
The optimal position for inspiration using your breath to release tensions in your core is lying on your back on the floor with your legs resting over a chair or ottoman or even a coffee table. Whatever you do, don’t lie flat — the crunch in your low back when you lie flat creates spinal tension that blocks your breath.
Bend your knees and rest your calves over the seat of the chair. Make sure your chair has an opening at the back so that your feet can slide through the back — i.e., not be jammed up against anything.
Place something under your head – a small pillow or folded towel so that your forehead is slightly higher than your chin. This uncrunches your neck.
Step 3: Observe Your Breath
Once you set your timer, soften into the seat and the floor — softening your head, your face, your arms, your torso, your legs, your feet.
Now notice where in your body you feel your breath moving and resting.
Your breath has four parts. It flows in and pauses. It flows out and pauses. Become aware of these facets of your breath.
Now listen and observe. At first the pauses may be difficult to find. That’s fine. They are there, and you will notice them in time.
Watch where your breath goes, how it sounds as it goes, whether it pauses, and if it pauses, rest in the pause.
And then you keep breathing easily and softly.
As you listen, that sound may change, and your breath may change. It may get louder, softer, longer, shorter, deeper, or more shallow.
Whatever your breath is doing is fine.
If you find your thoughts starting to intrude or worries entering your mind, bring your attention back to your breath.
Focus on that.
Do this for ten minutes.
Step 4: Take a Moment
At the end of your breathing practice, give yourself a minute to re-enter your space. Move gently and slowly.
If you are in the middle of a writing block with a deadline looming, take a little transitional break. Get something to drink, take a slow, easy, short stroll around your office or home. Have a little snack.
Your words will flow.
If you don’t experience dramatic positive change after your first practice, that’s okay. Tension builds in your body in layers. You likely have so much tension built up that you’ll need time to fully unkink.
Give yourself that time. Your body isn’t a machine, to be quickly calibrated. It can take time to dissolve tension and reconnect with the source of your creative flow.
When You Unkink Your Creativity Your Words Will Pour Out of You
It’s time. Time to come back to your screen.
Time is still ticking.
The screen is still blank.
But it feels different, doesn’t it? The deadlines don’t bother you.
You come back to your screen and notice that you’ve shifted from anxiety about getting words down to calm excitement.
You may have a completely different sense about what you’re writing. A unique perspective, a fresh insight, a savvy positioning of your message.
You won’t strive and strain for your words. You won’t force them.
They will just flow, like your breath.
Dissolving tension with your breath allows you to write from a place of ease.
As you continue to practice even when you are not blocked, your words will become unstoppable. Just ten minutes a day, or even every other day, and your core tensions will dissolve, and with them your block to writing.
This is ancient wisdom. It’s readily applicable wisdom. And now it’s yours.