Writer’s block and the Subconscious ~

Writer’s block:

 It’s a problem all authors are familiar with, whether you compose fiction or non-fiction, poetry, articles or children’s books. Allow me to introduce you to a writer, who is also a hypnotherapist. She claims she has found the cure for writer’s block. With me today I have the founder of MaeDawn Wellness Center, Gina Henderson.

Hi Gina! Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us today.

Gina:             It’s my pleasure, Genella, and thank you for having me as a guest!

Genella:       How long have you been doing hypnosis?

Gina:             Honestly, since I was twelve years old! I picked up my first book of hypnosis at that age and I’ve been hypnotizing people and studying hypnosis ever since. I had a break from studying about ten years ago, and then just recently picked it up again and this time I got certified. So now I’m official and get paid to do what I love to do!

Genella:       Since I know you personally and have been hypnotized by you, I know this isn’t true, but isn’t there an obvious concern people have about hypnosis and being controlled?

Gina:             You’re absolutely right. It still shocks me because I’ve known the truth about hypnosis from the beginning and never developed any misconceptions. The truth is we go in and out of a state of hypnosis every day when we drive a car, go in and out of sleep, read a book or watch a movie, just to name a few examples. Hypnosis is just a natural occurrence when your mind shifts into a different state of consciousness AND you are in complete control. As a hypnotherapist, I cannot tell you do something you don’t want to do…period!

Genella:       But what about those stage hypnosis shows where people are clucking like chickens and making fools of themselves?

Gina:             I know a lot of people aren’t going to like to hear this, but the truth about stage hypnosis is…it’s an excuse for people to act silly. Seriously!! They WANTED to cluck like a chicken and then they go back to their seats and say, “I didn’t have any control!” As soon as they raised their hand and stepped up onto that stage, they willingly gave that control over and committed to doing whatever the Stage Hypnotist said to do. End of story. I’ve had plenty of experiences with people I’ve hypnotized where I’ve said, “You find yourself on a beach,” and they’ve said, “Actually, I’m in a forest and I like it here. Can we do that instead?” If that’s where they want to go, then I go with it and work with them. I’m just a guide.

Genella:       Turning now to the services you do for writers…you’ve shared with me that you have helped writers eliminate writer’s block. Can you explain how that works and what you use?

Gina:             As a writer myself, I have my moments when I struggle with various elements of my stories – how to give dimension to a character; what way I should take a storyline or a scene; or how to work in new revisions my editor has asked me to do; the list goes on and it’s something every writer struggles with. In the past, I would do what most any writer does: agonize in front of a computer, trying to find the answers and getting nowhere. I had to resort to putting my writing aside and letting the ideas germinate in my brain until one would hit me a few days later and I could begin writing again. A lot of wasted time, if you ask me.

When I went through my hypnotherapy certification and learned the various techniques, I began to realize what writer’s block truly is and why we have it. Plain and simple, writer’s block is our conscious mind getting in the way of our creativity. The conscious mind is very critical and analytical. As any creative person can probably agree, criticism and analysis do not belong in the creative process. They’re too rigid and controlling. I realized that all of our ideas come from the subconscious mind, NOT the conscious mind, and my experience with hypnotherapy has shown me how surprisingly creative the subconscious mind is. That’s when I began applying hypnotic techniques to the creative process.

Genella:       Both of us being writers, I know we have our own struggles with writer’s block and we’ve heard other writers talk about the issues they have with moving forward in their stories. Some of the issues I can name off the top of my head are not being able to finish a story they’ve started–

Gina:             NOT a problem you have, (laughing) but yes, I’ve encountered that with other writers.

Genella:       (laughing) No, not a problem I’ve had. 😉 Sagging middles are another common problem I’ve heard of.

Gina:             That’s usually a middle-age issue and I can help with hypnosis for weight loss. (laughing)

Genella:       Sagging middles in STORIES, smarty pants! LOL Also Cliché characters, too. What problems have you encountered either yourself or in working with other writers?

Gina:             Shallow characters – like a bad guy who is just a bad guy and doesn’t really have a past or a good side to him. Common problems I personally experience are knowing where to take a scene so it pushes my story along, or giving layers and more purpose to characters in a story.

Genella:       With all of the problems we’ve mentioned, can you pick one as an example and how you would use hypnotherapy to resolve it?

Gina:             I would love to! I’ll pick a short one. I have a great story with one of my characters, Rosselyn, which is really fun, but very detailed. I’ll put that one up on my blog if anyone wants to read it. I just recently went through a major revision of my current book ETERNAL CONQUEST (due for release sometime this summer) and in that revision for various reasons, I needed to move Broderick and Davina’s first love scene up in the story by two or three chapters. However, moving this sensual and tender moment up put it in a very awkward place where they were talking about the villain Angus, and I had a dickens of a time trying to make a smooth transition from a tense moment to a tender moment and wasted a lot of time struggling with it.

I had JUST come up with these ideas for using hypnotherapy in my writing and said, “Now’s the perfect time to put it to use and see if it really works!” I stepped away from my computer – to get away from the place where I have struggled in the past – and sat in a room, in a comfortable chair, with the lights off. Taking a few deep and comfortable breaths, I brought myself mentally to my beach – a place of calm and peace – and I said to myself, “I’m going to be on my beach and when I turn around, I’m going to see a doorway. When I walk through that doorway, I’m going to step into the world of my characters and one of my characters is going to show up and tell me exactly what to do for this scene to make a smooth transition.”

Genella:       Why did you describe that process to yourself before you did it?

Gina:             Our subconscious needs a little set-up, so to speak, so it knows where it’s going. Your subconscious has the answer to all your problems – including your literary ones – but it does need a general idea of what path to follow and then it will have the answer ready to go when you get there.

Genella:       But isn’t that really your conscious mind doing the work? Just listening to you, I’m already coming up with ideas of what would happen when I walk through that door.

Gina:             Good question! And yes, so did I! I actually thought, and even wanted, to see either Broderick or Davina, in the room where they have their scene, when I walked through that door. However, my subconscious did something completely unexpected – the villain Angus showed up! I stepped through the door into the wooded area where both Broderick and Angus hideaway during the day (they’re vampires). As I walked into the woods, Angus walked up to me and I said, “What are you doing here?”

He said, “Gina, you don’t need me.”

I said, “Yeah, I know. So, what are you doing here?”

He said, “No, you don’t get it. You don’t need me. You keep trying to pull me into this scene with Broderick and Davina by having them talk about me and how I’m impacting them and their lives. This scene is about Broderick and Davina. This is the scene where they declare their love for each other. Stop bringing me into it.”

I said, “Ohhhh! I get it! Thanks!”

He said, “No problem!”

I was done in less than five minutes. When I came out to sit back at the computer, my husband said, “Done already?!” I said, “I KNOW! And you’ll never guess who showed up!” He said, “You’re kidding me!”

Genella:       Have you ever had your conscious mind get in the way while you’re doing these trances? If so, how do you know the difference?

Gina:             Another great question! And yes, I’ve had that happen several times during these private trances and one of two things usually happens for me: One – Events go nowhere and they make no sense and I feel very frustrated when I’m going through the experience. Frustration and senselessness are key indications that your conscious is trying to control things and not letting your subconscious reign free. Two – My characters will tell me that I’m getting in the way. I met one of my characters in a scene I didn’t expect to enter and began asking her questions. “But how can this be happening right now? Isn’t Nasir going to protest? Isn’t Talon going to–” She turned and interrupted me, saying, “Are you looking for answers or are you just going to stand there and try to run things?” I shut up and let her lead me and had an amazing experience!

Genella:       If that happens, what do you do to get your conscious mind out of the way?

Gina:             Take a few deep and comfortable breaths and relax. In whatever scene you’ve walked into, imagine yourself sitting down or stopping and notice the scenery. Don’t do anything but be in the scene. Once you feel the tension gone, then you can proceed with the trance. And you’ll know when you’re tense and when you’re relaxed.

Genella:       I think I can relate to what you’re saying, but I don’t know if this is the same thing. I was lying in bed a few mornings ago. I had just woken up, I was relaxed, and was letting my mind drift and wander and a new story idea just hit me! BAM! I immediately wrote it down.

Gina:             That’s EXACTLY what I’m talking about and you just proved that anyone can do it! What happened to you is what happens with these trances – your critical mind had not become active for the day just yet. You were lying there, letting your mind wander, and your creativity just took off.

Genella:       So, what happens at these workshops you’re doing? Can you explain what they are and how they help?

Gina:             Sure! Writing Workshops in Wonderland – “Wonderland” being the subconscious mind – are designed to give writers a personal experience with these trances. We have twelve workshops that cover those common issues we spoke of earlier. The first four workshops focus on Writer Development – helping writers overcome common insecurities about their own writing, such as fear of failure or success, calling on your creativity when you NEED it, and memory recall techniques. The second set of workshops deal with Character Development – you can become your character to learn more about how they think; you can interview your character or interview the Master Teacher of your character, just to name a couple of the workshops. And the final set of workshops deal with Story Development. Most of these workshops have you step into the world of your characters and watch a scene unfold. All of the workshops begin with a discussion and then we do a group guided meditation. After the meditation, we all discuss what we experienced and we give writers the chance to write their ideas down while they’re fresh in their mind. We also conduct the workshop in a way that teaches the writers how to take this tool home with them so they can do it themselves.

Genella:       This sounds really exciting! How have you helped other writers so far? What has been their experience?

Gina:             As an example – I have a writer friend up in the San Francisco Bay area and I taught her these techniques over the phone. She was having problems trying to work out a seminar she was going to teach and I told her she could use these techniques for non-fiction as well. One of the workshops is called “Journey to the Caterpillar” and you walk through the woods, following this floating smoke that is almost “alive” and it leads you to Absalom, the caterpillar. He sits atop his mushroom, puffing on his hookah, and tells you exactly what you need to hear or know about the problem you have. She used it and said she couldn’t believe how easy it was, how fun it was, and how Absalom did indeed have the exact solution to her seminar problem. I’ve introduced this to over a dozen writers and they have all come back telling me the same thing – how much fun they’re having and how easily they’re getting the answers they need to continue writing.

Genella:       If you don’t live in the Los Angeles area to take the workshops – or you can’t make the workshops due to schedule conflicts – how can a writer learn these techniques?

Gina:             Like I did with my friend in SF, I do phone consultations and private sessions. You can visit my web site and click on the calendar tab at the top where you can check my availability. Under the calendar, I have an appointment request form they can fill out and I’ll contact them for arrangements. The request form can also be used to request me as a guest speaker at your writer’s group where I can perform one of the workshops and teach some of these techniques. Additionally, in the next couple of months, I’ll be releasing the entire series of workshops in MP3 format. They’ll be recorded guided meditations with sound effects and intro tracks to explain the process of each meditation. So, with the phone consultations, private sessions, writers group workshops or MP3s, anyone anywhere in the world can learn these techniques to free their creativity and eliminate writer’s block.

Genella:       Where can someone find out more information about the pricing, dates, times and descriptions of the workshops?

Gina:             If you visit my web site at www.maedawn.com, click on the “Workshops” tab at the top. You’ll see complete descriptions of each workshop and there’s a link to the Meetup.com page I have for the Upland Writer’s Group where you can view the calendar to see the workshop schedules and sign up. I’m teaching in Upland at The Healing Shoppe and also in Marina Del Rey staring in February at The Goddess Body Shop.

Genella:       Any parting words of advice for my blog audience?

Gina:             You can do and be anything…and I mean anything…you put your mind to. If you don’t believe that, then contact me and we can work together to get your subconscious on board with that idea. Don’t let doubt get in the way of achieving your goals.

Genella:       Thank you, Gina! I believe you will be blessed with abundance for helping others—*Teaching* people to fish as opposed to just handing them a meal.