Sunday, May 25, 2014

Guest Post: Moving the Imaginary Block by Alayna-Renee Vilmont

Moving The Imaginary Block
Alayna-Renee Vilmont
Image Source: Building the Great Pyramid

We’ve all been there.

You’ve gotten the idea that you’d like to write, and you’re completely excited about sharing your story with the world. You have all these thoughts and feelings that are captivating, and you must get them down on paper before they escape forever. At the first opportunity, you open your computer screen or your journal, and all that stares back is complete emptiness. Seriously, there’s just nothing. What happened to the inspiration? You no longer remember that transcendent idea you had in the shower or the brilliant phrase that popped into your head while cleaning out the cat’s litter box. Instead, you have feelings of inadequacy, failure, and wonder if spending time writing is the best use of your limited free time. After all, it is clear your muse has abandoned you, and that endless loop of Law And Order: Criminal Intent is not going to watch itself.

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Does this sound familiar?

Most people call it writer’s block. Some talk about feeling uninspired, while others lament a lack of talent and creativity. In reality, most writers are hampered not by lazy work ethic, lack of the world’s best idea, or a desire to write. The fear of failure and criticism, even subconsciously, keeps many creative people from doing what they do best: creating.

We all have an inner critic. You’ve probably met it before. It’s that voice in your head that tells you nobody reads books anymore, so certainly nobody will read yours. It tells you that you’re not good enough, and that everything you want to say has already been said by someone better and smarter than you. It tells you that writing never made anyone any real money, and if you’re doing it for a living, you should get a real job. It reminds you of all those great works of literature you love, of the popular series of books that’s being made into a movie franchise, of all these wonderful things being created every day by not you. Suddenly, you find you have nothing to say. You feel irrelevant.

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Your inner critic is kind of a mean and horrible person. It doesn’t like anything, and it is there to keep you from succeeding. It may lie, and say it is simply looking after you. It will say that the best way to never face criticism is to never do anything at all. It is your job to use whatever tools you have to fight your inner critic, and win.

Many writers have different strategies for conquering the inner critic. Julia Cameron, of The Artist’s Way fame, recommends writing three pages in your journal every morning. It can be three pages of lists, or disconnected thoughts, or your feelings on the last episode of Breaking Bad. The important thing is to just keep writing.

Marina Keegan, the late author of The Opposite Of Loneliness, writes that she believes in setting aside three hours each day to write. If the ideas do not happen that day, she resolves to still use that distraction-free time to think and to daydream. Eventually, she believes, the words will come.

Simone de Beauvoir, one of the most prolific female writers in history, could turn out thousands of pages of literature. When asked her secret, she confided that taking breaks from “work” to write letters to friends reminded her of who she was and why she loved writing. Anais Nin kept voluminous personal diaries, and is now better remembered for those than for her literary endeavours

Writing is writing, in any form. The myth of “writer’s block” is a lie, and it’s a bad one. It’s self-defeating. The job of a writer is to communicate. Contrary to what your inner critic has to say, the only failure you can really encounter as a writer is a failure to communicate. Failure is simply not putting the words on the paper. Failure is not letting your thoughts, your ideas, and your spirit shine through. Failure is being afraid, and letting fear dictate your path.

Failure is letting your worst critic defeat you before you even start. You may notice that he or she bears a striking resemblance to you, and disappears the moment that first word is committed to the page.

Go on. Take the chance. Write a word, any word. Write another.

Trust me, Law And Order: Criminal Intent will still be there later, faithfully waiting.


Alayna-Renee Vilmont is a freelance writer, blogger, performer, and modern-day Renaissance woman currently residing in Atlanta, Georgia. Her first book, “Ophelia’s Wayward Muse”, is a poetic anthology based around the many facets of human relationships and experiences. Alayna is also the voice behind Jaded Elegance: The Uninhibited Adventures Of A Chic Web Geek, which has been entertaining readers since 2000. She maintains an active presence on Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter, and almost every other form of social media out there. Alayna has previously appeared on this site, winning last year’s flash fiction contest and contributing guest essays. She is also an avid devotee of Law And Order: Criminal Intent.  If you’d like to follow the adventures of this modern-day wayward muse, please stop by and visit at


  1. I call my inner critic "Self Doubt" and have kicked the bastard out numerous times. He eventually sneaks his way back in eventually, but so long as I don't let him sleep on the couch and become a moocher, he's more out than in. But once he's in, it's really hard to overcome his presence when he keeps telling you that you can't do it.

    I'll also have to add real life to the block syndrome. Being a wife and mom of three kids with a part time job and full time laundry, it's hard to find the time, and when I do, it's hard to focus. I take advantage of the days when I'm here and the kids are in school. I really have to grab as much uninterrupted time as I can.

    We all have our challenges when it comes to writing, but so long as we find a way to overcome them, we'll be able to type THE END.

    1. I just realized I repeated "eventually" in the second sentence. :)


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