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Unblocking Writer's Block

Updated: Jul 8, 2021

So often writers complain that they’ve lost their inspiration to write. They don’t feel creative. The white page just stares at them, and their eyes and brain just stare back. Their creative storehouse feels empty. This is writer’s block, and experts have offered all kinds of remedies for overcoming it, such as:

· taking a walk

· working on another piece of writing

· reading a book or listening to music

· making a list of topics of interests

The idea is to engage a part of the brain not associated with writing until creativity returns.This type of writer's block is associated with more mental, emotional, and spiritual droughts. However, there’s another type of writer’s block which I have encountered that they don’t talk about. Nothing can kill my muses as effectively as physical pain. I was so busy trying to find cures for my pain, I couldn’t write.

And the research bares out my making this connection between physical pain and writing. Harvard professor Yiheng Tu maintains that the medial prefrontal cortex (MPC) is the part of the brain that is associated with chronic low back pain. In addition, according to another neuroscientist Heather Berlin (Mount Sinai Hospital, NY), when we are in a creative state, we activate the same part of the brain associated with pain, the MPC. When I put the two studies together, it seems to me as though pain causes a tug of war in the brain. Pain vs creativity. And for me, my chronic back pain was winning the battle.

Previous to this, I had never sat so much in my life. Even when I taught, I stood up. I moved from one part of the classroom to the other, from one student to the other, one group to the other.

In early retirement, I found ways to stay on my feet. I walked to the subway (often had to stand in a crowded train). I walked from East 101 Street to West 135th Street (Schomburg Library)