What if I told you I could cure your writer’s block in one hour? Would you say “awesome – where do I sign?” or would you be more sceptical, looking for the catch?
What if I told you that this one-hour cure involved breathing chaotically, screaming, jumping up and down with your arms in the air, freezing like a statue, and dancing?
I’m sure I’ve probably lost some of you now. For those of you who dare to continue, you should know that this is the most unconventional, out there, and woo woo blog post in my repertoire. But if you’re really struggling to break through your writer’s block, perhaps an unconventional solution is exactly what you need.
I recently finished a six-week stint at the Osho International Meditation Resort in India where there are ten scheduled meditations a day. Some are more unusual than others.
One of these is called Dynamic Meditation, on every day at 6am (instructions below). It’s hard core – you have to breathe, scream, dance, freeze and jump up and down for ten minutes. Yes, you heard me – you have to jump up and down for ten minutes.
So how can this help your writer’s block?
If you have a physical injury, you start moving in new ways to accommodate it. For a time, this is a good thing – by restricting your movement you give an injury the time it needs to heal. However, if the injury persists, you can get in the habit of moving in this restricted manner. Ultimately, this can prevent the injury from healing – because it isn’t moving, it can’t regain its old strength and flexibility. Instead it stays stuck.
Persistent writer’s block can work in the same way – you come up with tricks to get around it (moving to a new room, taking a shower, looking at other people’s work for inspiration), but while all of these can get you out of a momentary tight spot, none of them solve the real problem, which is just that your creativity/inspiration/energy (pick your preferred word) isn’t moving. And because it can’t move, when you pick up a pen or sit in front of the keyboard, nothing comes out.
While short term tricks can help get the juices flowing for a new blog post or email, for a more significant project (like a book), you need a more aggressive solution. This is where the woo woo theory comes in – like going to the physio helps get you back to peak physical condition, moving your body, breathing, and using sound in unfamiliar and unusual ways all help to get your creativity flowing again.
The reason I like this style of meditation for this is because it combines all of those elements – movement, breath, sound – with getting all of the emotional crap that could be keeping you preoccupied out of your system. Plus, it’s an hour, and a one-hour meditation is going to be more effective than taking thirty seconds to move to a new room, five minutes to take a shower, or ten minutes to go for a walk.
So how does it work? This one hour meditation is split into five parts, which should be done in order as each piece builds on the previous one. You’re supposed to do it with your eyes closed, so make sure you’ve moved anything breakable (or anything that you could potentially crash into) out of the way. And you’re supposed to fully commit to every stage – no matter how weird it might make you feel.
Breathe (10 minutes)
In this stage you breathe deeply, chaotically, in and out through the nose, using your body with your breath. Any time you feel yourself falling into a pattern, break it – take a deep breath, breathe quickly, move your body – anything to maintain the chaos.
Explode (10 minutes)
Here you let go – release anything that needs to come out – anger, frustration, sadness, joy, anything. You can scream, jump, kick, dance, cry, sing … just get it all out (and keep going for the whole ten minutes).
Hoo! (10 minutes)
Raise your arms above your head, and jump up and down on the spot, continuously, for the whole ten minutes. I hate this stage. I’m not very good at it. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing – if something’s a challenge then it’s stretching you, and this definitely challenges me.
When you’re jumping, focus on landing on the flats of your feet. Every time you land, say “hoo!” and let the sound reverberate through your body. As the impact of landing moves up my legs, I like to imagine the force of the sound moving down my body to meet that impact.
Stop (15 minutes)
Wherever you are, stop. No sounds, no movements – just freeze for 15 minutes.
Celebrate (15 minutes)
Come out of your frozen pose and celebrate by dancing – you survived! (Believe me – that’s reason enough for celebrating.)
So there you have it – my unconventional cure for writer’s block! For more tips, tricks and advice on writing your book, sign up for our fortnightly newsletter below. Otherwise, if you have any unusual remedies of your own for writer’s block, send them through – we’d love to hear about them.