For years I have been a writer, an editor and a teacher of creative writing. Now I want to share some of what I have learned along the way. Write On The Fringes is a blog about the dangers, the disappointments and the rewards of writing. It's a record of the writing of a novel, from the tantalising first inklings of an idea, through to the final draft. But above all it's an exploration of the art and the craft of writing and the nature of story, as well as a search for the essence of creativity and the complex nature of truth.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Sticking Points

'Nature gives everybody energy which is creative. It becomes destructive only when it is obstructed, when no natural flow is allowed.'
Osho, Creativity: Unleashing the Forces Within

Sometimes it seems that as soon as we start a creative project, circumstances and duty step in to bring it to an abrupt halt. Perhaps it is an elaborate avoidance technique, designed to stop us from facing the possibility of failure. A version of writer's block. Or perhaps it is simply because life gets in the way and a project must be put aside for a time. It isn't always easy to distinguish between the two, and either way, it is sometimes difficult to return to a project at a later date. We fill up our days until there is no space left for it, putting everything else first and not giving our creativity the value it deserves.

Like good food and exercise, creativity is fundamental to our health. We should find the time to value and nurture it, not place it at the bottom of our 'to do' lists. In his book Creativity, the author, Osho, lists five obstacles to creativity which he has written an entire book on and I shall attempt to summarise in a few lines and perhaps expand on in later posts:

Self-Consciousness - Osho calls self-consciousness a disease, describing it as a blocked, frozen state, a state of self that takes in but doesn't give out. 'A nonsurrendering attitude.' Whereas consciousness is free of ego, has no boundaries and is abundantly alive. Perhaps the state of self-consciousness relates to our wounded selves and the way to overcome it is to let go of resistance and tune into our unconscious selves.

Perfectionism - in order to find our way back to our creativity we only have to lower our standards and keep lowering them, until eventually the flow resumes. Perfectionism is dangerous because if we seek it we never arrive. And if by chance we did reach it then we would most likely be afraid to ever set out on the journey again. Osho associates perfectionism with ego, describing a paradox 'the real creator knows that he has not created anything. Existence has worked through him.'

Intellect – Creativity comes from the heart, not from the head. There are times when we use the head; possibly during our research, though even then we follow a strange intuitive sense that takes use to just the right places. We also use the head in the editing process. But in the writing process we write from the heart, drawing perhaps from memory but transforming it with imagination.

Belief - Many of the beliefs we hold, limit our imagination because beliefs tend to be carved in stone, rigid and unmoving. When we create we are drawing from our own experience and experience is ever changing. In the process we need to be open, not closed, seeking universal truths not rigid mind beliefs.

The Fame Game - the need for fame and monetary success acts as a hindrance to creativity, a block to the free flow of the imagination. We write what we think we should write not what we need to write for ourselves. And instead of immersing ourselves in the trials and joys of writing, we wish away the process for the end product. If fame and money comes (and they rarely do), then that's great but it shouldn't be the only factor that determines our desire to write or we will only be capable of composing, not truly creating, a distinction that Osho makes emphatically in his book.

These are obstacles which cause writer's block, though it's important to remember that they have an effect on all of our creative endeavors and by that I mean every part of our lives. More often than not, the obstacles that stop our creativity are self-generated internal ones like those that Osho lists. Sometimes though, the factor that stop us from writing are external ones, such as working long hours or school holidays or even tragedy. Sometimes we find ourselves in a kind of Catch-22 situation, becoming depressed or ill because our creativity is blocked and unable to access our creativity because we are depressed or ill. Grief has a way of stopping us in our tracks, though it can be a healing process to write our way through it as Isabel Allende did when she wrote Paula while her daughter was lying in a coma and eventually died; and Joan Aitken too, when she wrote A Year of Magical Thinking after her husband died suddenly and her daughter fell severely ill. However, there are times when we have to let go of a project and allow a space in our lives for healing or simply living, knowing that we can come back to it later, when we are ready. I agree with Catherine Ann Jones who writes in The Way of Story, that 'so-called writer's block is not a malady to be remedied but rather an opportunity to go deeper'.

For the time being I have been turned away from writing my new novel by the desire to spend time with my children during their holidays, a deadline to write a film script, the need to read my husband's first novel manuscript, a science thriller called The God Equation (there's a plug!) and my building excitement as Flight approaches its publication date. The trick is to let go of the writing of my novel without resentment and remember to apply that creativity to every activity in my daily life.

Copyright (c) 2012 by Rosie Dub. All rights reserved. You may translate, link to or quote this article, in its entirety, as long as you include the author name and a working link back to this website:


  1. Thank you, Rosie, for posting this about the book. I've never thought of belief as a block before. Sure it plays a role in how I write, but I never thought of it in that context. This opened a whole new train of thought for me. So, again, thank you.

    The fame game section made me smile, too. I kind of have the opposite problem though. Photography has been a major part of most of my life and I enjoy being the one BEHIND the camera. Working as a TV journalist has never been an aspiration of mine, but a print journalist has. I don't want to be recognized by people I don't know. The only reason I like by lines is to gain recognition by potential employers. Sometimes my creativeness is held up because I think "this is too good; I'll be too famous for this." - jk - but really, that's why I like photos and print.

    I'm curious about The God Equation. I can't wait to find out more about it.

  2. Hi Joe
    Belief's a strange thing isn't it. It creates walls in our minds that are generally invisible, at least until we find the courage to look at our limitations. I think fear of success is as big a factor in writer's block as fear of failure. Here's a beautiful quote from Nelson Mandela's 1994 speech:
    'Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our fear, our presence automatically liberates others.'