It has been raining hard here in Portland the last couple of days. This morning, I watched water drip off the giant fir in my backyard as I waited for my Pug to finish his business. He is
fat very muscular and blind visually impaired and he does not like to be in the rain so I was keeping an eye out for when he wanted to come back in.
And even though I’ve been working on mindfulness my mind was wandering to the fact that this dog hates being in the rain so much that he will hold it for hours rather than go out. He’s had this talent (I call it a talent because in the middle of the night when I wake up and have to pee I wish I had it) since he was a puppy.
Back then, if he had an accident I finally realized it was my fault. It generally meant that we had forgotten to insist he go out. Poor little puppy would hold it until he just couldn’t hold it any longer, which probably taught him the fine canine art of bladder control, come to think of it.
What, pray tell, does all this have to do with writing, specifically, writing blocks? Well, I’ve learned over the years that if I’m blocked it is also usually my own damn fault.
New Age spirituality will tell you that you recognize in others what needs to be healed in yourself. So if you are constantly harping on your friend for being negative, um, that means you need to take a look at your own negativity. If your husband is constantly irritated about money issues, perhaps you are noticing this because of your difficulty with money. And so forth.
In other words, everything is your fault. Negativity, the dog peeing in the house, writer’s block, its all your fault. Another, more Oprah-esque way of putting this is that you are responsible for creating your own life, including your writing blocks.
Yes, you are. Don’t argue with me. You know its true.
What I have found is that if I’m blocked I’m often resisting something. It means that I’m backing away from stretching myself in my writing, such as recently, when a new character was begging me to write in her viewpoint and I kept not very politely refusing. Until I got so blocked and could not go forward and realized that I had to write in that character’s viewpoint to move on. Once I get whatever is blocking me, it evaporates instantly.
The mind is a terribly mysterious thing.
Sometimes when I’m blocked it means that I’m in the wrong scene or I’m dragging the current scene on too long or the scene should be moved to a different location. In other words, something is wrong with where I am in the writing.
I know this sounds obvious, but when I’m in the middle of being blocked, it is anything but. I just know that all of a sudden vacuuming seems like the most fun activity ever. That cleaning out the freezer is desperately imperative. Planning and preparing an elaborate meal is the most important activity on earth.
The paradox is that allowing myself to step away from the computer and let go of the control of the story is what generally frees the block. It is not uncommon to have the light bulb idea that makes everything fall into place while vacuuming or pulling weeds or stirring the soup.
The moral of the story, besides the fact that everything in the world is my fault, is that being a slacker is sometimes just what you need to smash those blocks.
My Pug, who is snoring the afternoon away on his favorite chair, couldn’t agree more.