Dyno-Rod for Writers’ Block

by Juliet Platt on June 16, 2010

in Writing

After an extremely full-on week, and an insidious sense of having run out  of writing inspiration forever, I was looking forwards this morning to playing golf, my usual Wednesday activity.

However, as I tried to prise myself out of bed – never easy at the best of times – and lurch towards the bathroom, I realised that my lower back had seized up and I couldn’t actually walk.

This didn’t bode well for golf.  Having spent an exhausting week travelling, facilitating workshops, following up contacts, interviewing people, writing articles, meeting deadlines, running a couple of community events as well as cooking meals, packing lunches, entertaining children, hosting play dates, doing a ton of laundry and not sleeping very well, my body was finally screaming “ENOUGH”, and flatly refusing to cooperate in getting me to the first tee. Playing golf is usually my haven from phones and emails, work and chores, but today it was looking like I’d have to give up on the idea.

So often we completely ignore  what our body tells us. I have to admit, this morning after doing some preliminary stretches and managing to cycle with Caitlin to school, I started to think that maybe I could carry on regardless and see how far round the course I could get. But deep down I knew this was a bad idea and in the end there was nothing for it except cancel my tee and stay at home. 

The next challenge was to stop myself plonking down in front of my PC and using my time ‘productively’ to knock out a couple of articles that had been hanging around for a couple of days.  But by this time the writing synpases inside my head had completely gone on strike and were standing on the picket line waving blank placards, having not even had the wherewithal to write anything there.

It was no good. I had to give in. Out came the Pilates mat and in I dug, immediately baffled as to why I was ever resisting doing this. It always feels so good.

I’ve been practicing Pilates since December, and I find it is the perfect exercise. It demands a clear mind so you can follow your breathing in time with the movement; it is non-weight bearing so doesn’t strain, and it is impossible to over-do it, so doesn’t put any muscles or joints at greater peril.

What is amazing is that straight away after doing the exercises I was able to pick up my journal and write more freely than I have been able to over the past few days. And this led me to ponder even more on the importance of listening to our bodies, which are sending us messages all the time, either in sensations, aches and pains, or that mysterious thing called gut-feeling, our intuition.

Today it was a very loud and acutely painful message that my body was giving me. But being aware of our body’s more subtle messages, rhythms and needs is extremely important physically, and useful mentally and emotionally. By putting my body’s needs first this morning I unlocked a whole torrent of words that then demanded to be captured, written down. Ideas flowed, a whole presentation formed itself on the page in less than half an hour, and suddenly I was able to see more clearly how to improve a document that had been bugging me for a couple of days without my having had the merest clue what to do with it or why it was causing me such a problem.

Body consciousness is a vital tool for unblocking writing, and any other form of creative activity – even thinking about the shopping list. By all means when cloudy-headedness strikes do whatever it is you need to do to shift it. But also do another thing. A small thing really. Just check in with how your body feels and what it might be telling you. And respond. It could well be the dyno-rod solution you need.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: