A recent discussion thread on THE DAILY HAIKU about Writer’s Block from Lucy Newlyn prompted this blog, inspiring me to explore this further by looking at what also ‘blocks’ people from writing in the first place, then looking at what makes us feel blocked again once we have already taken those steps into writing. Anxiety seems to lie at the heart of the blocks that stop us even attempting to write something and then again in not being able to write anything again, or perhaps feeling dissatisfied with anything we may write… Also too perhaps fear about what people may think of our writing or often having been ‘squashed’ by unwarranted criticism.
Why we are not writing, wanting to write or feel unable to write is linked to our own personal experiences, emotions, lifestyle and environmental factors. A daily writing practice, taken in its loosest way, whether writing a short haiku, a diary entry, taking a photograph and making a note about it, sketching something, commenting on a conversation… can all help release the writing impulse. I like the way that Connie Pittman Ramsey in our first Interview series here refers to her haiku as unpredictable children that we love anyway – and I think it is this openness to the unpredictability of writing, in this instance haiku, that can help us shift anxiety and perhaps a need to perfect; taking us out of our comfort zones or indeed fire up those first forays into the writing adventure.
Clearly the correlation between how we are feeling in our lives permeates our writing, and one could argue should, that perhaps writer’s block or blocks into writing comes from resisting an ability to tune into ourselves and the world around us. Maybe there are times when we need to let the haiku find us as John Lanyon advocates in his interview, to take a break without feeling anxious that we won’t be able to write again or think about expanding into other forms of writing and creative endeavour – a change being as good as a rest. Haiku seems to be able to help shift people back into writing and also encourage those who have never written in this way to have a go – perhaps answering a prompt, that sense of invitation that Bambo Soyinka and I talk about in the Second Field Notes here helps, alongside the shortness and inherent accessibility of the activity. For visual thinkers the gathering of images, still or moving, drawn or painted, seems to also help. Widening the approach to a more holistic view of ‘writing’ should in theory release the block.
When we start to see writing beyond its obvious pen and paper connotations and expand its possibilities into other creative forms and embrace other activities in our lives such as walking, meditation, cooking, making new friends… then we ‘open’ ourselves up to fresh and changing perspectives, sparks for inspiration, but without judgement, seeing what comes out and playing with it. The use of the word block in itself suggests being stuck and what we need is a gentle push to get us moving again, it seems that a daily practice, in this case haiku, can help both get us into writing and start our writing practice up again.