by Steve Berberich
Writer’s block is traditionally viewed as an obstacle to overcome through willpower. To author and speaker Alix Moore, writer’s block is a mindset that can be changed through greater self-awareness. In this article, Alix discussed the sources of writer’s block and how to take the first steps toward developing the self-awareness you need to overcome it.
Alix will be one of over 30 distinguished speakers participating in the 2014 Maryland Writers’ Conference. Her session is titled “Getting Unstuck: Why Writer’s Block is Your Best Friend.” Here’s a sneak preview of some of the themes and topics that she’ll be discussing in her presentation.
She has created and presented dozens of seminars and workshops for teachers, writers, and those who work with animals. She is the president of the Montgomery County chapter of the Maryland Writers’ Association. When not writing or presenting, Alix is raising chickens, training cows, or harvesting vegetables on her sustainable homestead in Clarksburg.
Here is a closer look at Alix Moore:
Steve Berberich: Your website states that everyone has an inner creative genius. Is that related to your topic?
Alix Moore: Yes, it is related. That inner, creative part of us doesn’t operate like a machine. When we aren’t writing, it’s not that we’re broken and need to be fixed; it’s that we need to pause, to listen, and to learn something about ourselves.
In this workshop I want to unpack some of the myths that people have about writer’s block. A lot of times people think of it as a sort of character defect. They think, “I’m not trying hard enough. I need more willpower.” I don’t think that’s the problem at all. There’s usually something much deeper going on. There is real information to tap into in the fact that we are stuck.
SB: Why does writer’s block happen?
AM: I think that one of the big causes is fear. We are blocked creatively because voices in our head say, “You are not good enough; your work sucks; you are never going to get published.” Or, we are afraid of actually being successful and being visible because being “out there” can attract a lot of negative attention from people.
SB: You mean that people will “throw dirt?”
AM: Exactly! I know writers who have gotten negative messages, even hate mail, online, and it comes from just being visible and just simply being who you are. There is a lot of pressure in this society to conform, to not stand out.
SB: What do you mean?
AM: Look at celebrities in general. If people are too good at what they do, someone will find some way to try to bring them down and make them smaller. That makes them feel more comfortable perhaps.
If someone really shines brightly in their own unique way, that can illuminate places in their own lives where maybe they are not standing in their own truth, not being fully the creative persons they would like to be.
SB: Getting back to writer’s block, how do people get unstuck?
AM: First they have to understand what programming they already have around writer’s block. What goes on in your head when you are in that situation? That is the first thing to do: develop an awareness. The second thing is to consider alternatives. I will be exploring what could be going on to cause you to think you are not self-disciplined enough.
SB: As a writer, what helps you cope with writer’s block?
AM: For me, it always comes down to meditation. In meditation, we access that inner voice that’s often drowned out by the day-to-day world. In the workshop I will take people through a very short meditation and talk about the meditation tools that they can use to find out what is really happening, and to cope with it.
SB: How did you find your audience?
AMI have been a teacher for many years. I am also a nonfiction writer who writes about things that have changed my life. The minute I learn something, I want to share it with other people. The style of meditation I teach now completely changed my creative process and I wanted to share that.
So, I just started blogging, being visible online, holding workshops, and participating in my writers’ community, which is MWA!
SB: Is there anything else you can tell me about writer’s block that we haven’t covered so far?
AM: Sometimes we are blocked because we are in a period of growth. If we are trying to step into a new understanding of ourselves or a new amount of public success, or trying to move into a new direction, sometimes the creative process just has to shut down for a while. It is as if we are a website undergoing maintenance. But [our creative ability] will always come back in a new and better way.
SB: Have you ever experienced such a thing?
AM: Yes. I had to learn to step out of my ego. I really thought I was pretty hot stuff when I was younger. I was operating in an ego perspective that said, “How cool am I?” but I was actually really insecure. I had to let go of that insecurity about whether other people would like me and what I do, and find my own ability to like myself. During that personal growth period I could not write for a few months. It was like somebody turned off the faucet.
SB: Do you have a message that you want to share the conference?
AM: I want people to know they have so much power, that they can shine so brightly if they can just work through their fears and not worry about other people’s opinions.