If you’re a writer, there’s a good likelihood that you’ve spent at least a little time (if not a huge amount of time) procrastinating. Maybe you’ve even experienced “Writer’s Block”—which is kind of like procrastination that has taken up residence, with seemingly no recourse for eviction.
Have you ever wondered why writers are so plagued by procrastination, or why there’s even such a thing as “Writer’s Block”?
Unlike dancers or painters, we writers rely on the verbal centers of the brain to craft our work; this brings us up into our head . . . and the head is where the infamous Inner Critic lives. A lot of writers don’t see the connection between the Inner Critic and their procrastination or their “Writer’s Block,” but as far as I’m concerned, the Inner Critic is the man behind the Writer’s Block curtain; he’s orchestrating the whole show, making you sharpen every last pencil before you can sit down to write (and you haven’t used a pencil in decades; you write at a computer!).
In my experience, writers seem to suffer more severely from procrastination or “Block” than any other kind of artist. We writers just hang out a little too much with our Inner Critic (remember, our Inner Critic lives in our head).
When we’re writing we can’t just turn off our mind entirely; we need those verbal skills to form sentences and paragraphs. But we also need to fly under the Inner Critic’s radar if we’re going to actually get anything out onto the page.
So, how do you stay just enough in the mind to write, but not so much in the mind that the Inner Critic takes over? It’s a delicate balancing act, one where sensory awareness plays an important role.
Many of the writers who come to see me are stuck in their heads, duking it out with their Inner Critic. They don’t realize that all they have to do is duck. . . . down into their bodies. But just inhabiting the body doesn’t work if you do it in a mindless way. You can go kickbox for an hour or run up a mountain. But if you don’t tap into your sensory experience while you’re huffing and puffing, you may not be any closer to your writer’s flow when you come down the mountain.
So, being solely in your mind brings you perilously close to your Inner Critic, and being solely in your body can take you away from accessing your verbal centers. Thus, a secret route to inspired writing is to be in both your mind and your body at the same time. This is worth repeating: A secret route to inspired writing is to be both in your mind and your body at the same time.
But how do you do this? The simple answer is: You watch your body’s experience with your mind. You pay attention to your senses. It’s the sensory experience that is the bridge between inhabiting your body and inhabiting your mind.
So, the next time you feel stuck or find yourself engaged with your Inner Critic, go for a walk . . . and pay attention to your walking. What do you feel as you’re placing one foot in front of the other? What’s your inner experience? Notice the sensations in your feet, your belly, your chest. Pick up a stone and notice its texture. Take in the smell of a flower. Or you could do yoga or take a bath, but watch your sensations with your mind as you do it. And most important, have pen and paper on hand; you never know when the floodgates will open!