Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
Psychology, Medicine, Science, Politics, Oppression, Integrity, Philosophy, Jews -- For those who like their news and truths frank and sharp

There is no such thing as a writer’s block

The term writer’s block is used to name the phenomenon that one wants to write but doesn’t succeed to get anything worthy down for mental reasons.

Well, no more!

Complete books have been produced to help would-be – or even experienced – writers overcome this mental block. Truth is that this obstruction is self-imposed and can be remedied effortlessly in a second. Literally.

In 120 seconds, reading simple English, you can be an expert on this.

Being stuck comes from putting one foot on the gas and one on the brakes. Lift the latter and one drives. What do I mean by this metaphor?

Being Creative

There are two functions that are contradictory but that are both a part of writing: brainstorming and being critical. Writers “get blocked” only from not stopping the being critical. These two processes must be done consecutively (one after the other), not concurrently (at the same time).

So, first brainstorm. Just write. Everything that comes up. If you think “I can’t think,” write it down. If you think “But how to start,” write that down. Maybe your next thought is “and it’s not the first time.” Write it down. Then comes “and this is bad because …”? Write it down. Possibly followed by “and I wish I could write easily.” Write that down.

How long will it take before anything comes out that (later) will turn out to be of value to you? Five minutes? Max. Just keep writing and writing whatever you think. You may reread (part of) what you just wrote but only to continue a flow of thought or to expand on what you wrote, not to make it “perfect.”

No erasing. No corrections. No criticalness. Not yet.

(If you can’t help yourself, you can change a D into a T, add an S somewhere, etc., but only if it doesn’t interrupt your train of thought.)

When you’re done with your outpouring, you may start erasing and correcting. Though you may continue some more elaboration first.

Being Critical

When you’re really done, start taking stuff out. Your whole beginning of “I can’t find how to write anymore.” Fancy thoughts that led to nothing. Pure nonsense. Be stern as hell.

You may need to change the order of pieces. You may need to start making paragraphs. You may need to add connections between pieces. These are creative oasis in a desert of complete harshness. Allow for the creativity before returning to saying no to anything unfitting.

If something unacceptable is still too nice to discard, paste it into a separate file to keep for a rainy day. But be merciless. Spell check. Grammar check. Don’t just think how right you are. Try to imagine how opponents could challenge your points – and answer them.

Don’t be a lazy writer who demands of his readers to do the editing while reading. You do it. Over and over again. Until it’s “perfect,” LOL. Then you still polish. Polishing the polish. And then you hand it to a proofreader, a friend. Then ask an editor to remove more mistakes, improve stuff and write a few more bridges to span unexplained jumps from one idea to the next.

The critical phase takes much more time and effort than the creative one. As Thomas Edison said (1903): Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration. In that sense, being critical is more important than the brainstorming. But only after you brainstormed.

Easy does it, no?

So, don’t be critical in the creative phase.

Critique has no place                                                                                          In the writing phase.

That’s all there is to slaying the writer’s block.

More

And best of all, just like being stuck is inert, almost predicts that you will be stuck the next minute too, being good at writing is kind of predictive too. There is nothing more inspiring than a recent memory of being on fire and writing with the speed of light – almost. Nothing breeds success more than past success. Momentum is rough to alter too.

And last but not least, like it or not, I’m going to contradict everything that I wrote above. Contradict but not undo it.

There is such a thing as hard writing and easy writing. The easy form is: suddenly you are inspired, you have an idea, you start writing and you’re amazed at everything that comes out, ready and almost perfect.

And then there is the wrecking you brain writing. If you have time, don’t force it. You may first work it out subconsciously. Suddenly, sometime later, you may wake up from a dream or from being well rested and you have an idea. You start writing and it comes out all well and good, ready, organized and rich. The hard subject got softened on the backburner.

In any case, just do it. With your foot off the brakes. And tell others.

About the Author
MM is a prolific and creative writer and thinker, previously a daily blog contributor to the TOI. He often makes his readers laugh, mad, or assume he's nuts—close to perfect blogging. As a frontier thinker, he sees things many don't yet. He's half a prophet. Half. Let's not exaggerate. He doesn't believe that people observe and think in a vacuum. He, therefore, wanted a broad bio that readers interested can track a bit what (lack of) backgrounds, experiences, and educations contribute to his visions. * This year, he will prioritize getting his unpublished books published rather than just blog posts. Next year, he hopes to focus on activism against human extinction. To find less-recent posts on a subject XXX among his over 1400 archived ones, go to the right-top corner of a Times of Israel page, click on the search icon and search "zuiden, XXX". One can find a second, wilder blog, to which one may subscribe, here: https://mmvanzuiden.wordpress.com/ or by clicking on the globe icon next to his picture on top. * Like most of his readers, he believes in being friendly, respectful, and loyal. However, if you think those are his absolute top priorities, you might end up disappointed. His first loyalty is to the truth. He will try to stay within the limits of democratic and Jewish law, but he won't lie to support opinions or people when don't deserve that. (Yet, we all make honest mistakes, which is just fine and does not justify losing support.) He admits that he sometimes exaggerates to make a point, which could have him come across as nasty, while in actuality, he's quite a lovely person to interact with. He holds - how Dutch - that a strong opinion doesn't imply intolerance of other views. * Sometimes he's misunderstood because his wide and diverse field of vision seldomly fits any specialist's box. But that's exactly what some love about him. He has written a lot about Psychology (including Sexuality and Abuse), Medicine (including physical immortality), Science (including basic statistics), Politics (Israel, the US, and the Netherlands, Activism - more than leftwing or rightwing, he hopes to highlight reality), Oppression and Liberation (intersectionally, for young people, the elderly, non-Whites, women, workers, Jews, LGBTQIA+, foreigners and anyone else who's dehumanized or exploited), Integrity, Philosophy, Jews (Judaism, Zionism, Holocaust and Jewish Liberation), the Climate Crisis, Ecology and Veganism, Affairs from the news, or the Torah Portion of the Week, or new insights that suddenly befell him. * Chronologically, his most influential teachers are his parents, Nico (natan) van Zuiden and Betty (beisye) Nieweg, Wim Kan, Mozart, Harvey Jackins, Marshal Rosenberg, Reb Shlomo Carlebach, and, lehavdil bein chayim lechayim, Rabbi Dr. Natan Lopes Cardozo, Rav Zev Leff, and Rav Meir Lubin. This short list doesn't mean to disrespect others who taught him a lot or a little. * He hopes that his words will inspire and inform, and disturb the comfortable and comfort the disturbed. He aims to bring a fresh perspective rather than harp on the obvious and familiar. When he can, he loves to write encyclopedic overviews. He doesn't expect his readers to agree. Rather, original minds should be disputed. In short, his main political positions are among others: anti-Trumpism, for Zionism, Intersectionality, non-violence, anti those who abuse democratic liberties, anti the fake ME peace process, for original-Orthodoxy, pro-Science, pro-Free Will, anti-blaming-the-victim, and for down-to-earth, classical optimism, and happiness. Read his blog on how he attempts to bridge any tensions between those ideas or fields. * He is a fetal survivor of the pharmaceutical industry (https://diethylstilbestrol.co.uk/studies/des-and-psychological-health/), born in 1953 to his parents who were Dutch-Jewish Holocaust survivors who met in the largest concentration camp in the Netherlands, Westerbork. He grew up a humble listener. It took him decades to become a speaker too, and decades more to admit to being a genius. But his humility was his to keep. And so was his honesty. Bullies and con artists almost instantaneously envy and hate him. He hopes to bring new things and not just preach to the choir. * He holds a BA in medicine (University of Amsterdam) – is half a doctor. He practices Re-evaluation Co-counseling since 1977, is not an official teacher anymore, and became a friendly, powerful therapist. He became a social activist, became religious, made Aliyah, and raised three wonderful kids. Previously, for decades, he was known to the Jerusalem Post readers as a frequent letter writer. For a couple of years, he was active in hasbara to the Dutch-speaking public. He wrote an unpublished tome about Jewish Free Will. He's a strict vegan since 2008. He's an Orthodox Jew but not a rabbi. * His writing has been made possible by an allowance for second-generation Holocaust survivors from the Netherlands. It has been his dream since he was 38 to try to make a difference by teaching through writing. He had three times 9-out-of-10 for Dutch at his high school finals but is spending his days communicating in English and Hebrew - how ironic. G-d must have a fine sense of humor. In case you wonder - yes, he is a bit dyslectic. If you're a native English speaker and wonder why you should read from people whose English is only their second language, consider the advantage of having an original peek outside of your cultural bubble. * To send any personal reaction to him, scroll to the top of the blog post and click Contact Me.
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