Writer’s block, some believe it exists and some don’t. No matter your side of the page, for the next few minutes of reading this, suspend all disbelief you may have about it and just stay open. Welcome to the neuroscience of screenwriting, where you’ll learn a simple and effective stress relief approach that clears the path that lets your story flow!
Do any of the following issues sound familiar? Worried about deadlines or missing them? Struggle to write? Story confusion? Can’t finish? Writing exhausts, you? A drawer full of amazing notes but can’t put the story together? Blank page syndrome? Stuck on that last rejection or less than positive feedback? Got worries, fears? Does the inner critic have a hold of you? Feeling anxious, pressure, tension, or tightness?
You’ve tried it all, a million different things, all the known hacks that are supposed to help you write. Take a nap, phone a friend, talk to your pet, take a shower, write 10 pages of anything, exercise, read other scripts, get organized, jump up and down, stand on your head, etc, etc. Sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t.
But the one thing that you haven’t tried, that works for everyone, every time, the one thing that can get you in your writing flow, is Neuro-Energy Tapping! Wait, what? Remember, keep an open mind and let me share what it’s about and how it works.
Let’s talk about the elephant in the room, what is Neuro-Energy Tapping? It’s a self-use acupressure technique that calms the mind and relaxes the body. Literally using your fingers, tapping on energy points of the face and neck can shift how you feel and experience your body, emotions, and thoughts. Why would I want to do that?
We’re genetically encoded to survive, not write scripts…
Well, let me tell you first a bit about your brain. Your brain is your stress control center. We experience stress in the body first, and messages of stress are sent to the brain stem, our ancient reptilian brain, that makes the decision whether we’re safe or in danger. If we’re safe, then the body functions properly, we feel good, and we have a direct pathway to our creative, imaginative thinking. However, when we’re in danger, no matter if that danger is our own thought or if we’re reacting to something outside of us, the body messages threat to the brain and the brain does three things:
- The brain stem automatically, instinctually, commands all body systems to prepare for defense (fight, flight), which can change your heart rate, breathing, muscles to tighten, cortisol to be release, etc.
- Then the middle part of our brain is our emotional limbic brain, and stress sets off a fire alarm in the amygdala (a gland in the limbic system), which can change our emotions towards worry, fear, etc.
- Lastly, our cortex layer, our top brain, goes offline, that’s right, offline. When we’re stressed, we can experience brain fog, mental confusion, scattered thinking, all because the body and our emotions are taking priority, for our survival. And, all of this happens automatically, it’s part of our survival instincts, we’re genetically encoded to survive, not write scripts.
Ok, so when I’m stressed, I can’t think clearly or access the story in my creative mind? Correct! Remember, even if the stress is something you’re creating (thoughts, worries, fears, past unresolved issues, current life stuff), the body reacts the same, and mostly outside of your own awareness or ability to control. Typically, you’re just experiencing the symptoms of writer’s block (see semi-exhaustive list above and or add your own to the list).
Good news, there is a word, ‘neuroplasticity’, which defined means we have the ability to adapt, stretch and change. And, why we can wiggle out of writer’s block, eventually. Still, there are faster ways to do this!
Back to Tapping, it shifts our experience of stress because it directly affects the brain. Tapping on energy points sends a calming message to the brain that calls off the survival response and turns off the emotional fire alarm so that the thinking mind can come back online. This can happen very quickly, often on demand. Can you imagine your days, weeks, months of writer’s block can just dissolve in front of you and you can sense the inspiration to get writing, now? Yes, it’s possible!
So, you can clear your blocks, but HOW? The real question is how you know your block, that’s right. Think of a block you’ve had or are having now, and ask yourself how you know your block? What comes to mind? Perhaps a picture, a sound, voice, notice, sensation, emotion or an entire story about your block emerges? Whatever arises, that is your evidence and proof of what’s got you stuck and unable to hurdle obstacles keeping you from writing. You see, HOW you know, is the path to your flow.
Our bodies are energy with rivers of energy called meridians
There are two parts to Tapping, first the technical how-to and the second is the practical application of the technique. So, first, the how-to. Our bodies are energy with rivers of energy called meridians, and if you went to an acupuncturist, they would put needles in these energy points for purposes of circulating the energy body, to promote balance and wellbeing. We can do the same thing with our fingers.
The Tapping points I like to use (and there are hundreds) are:
- between the eyebrows
- side of the eye (near temples)
- under-eye (top of cheekbones)
- on the collar bones
- squeezing the wrist.
These are the big powerhouse fight or flight points, so we’re not messing around here, we’re going right to the source of our stress and helping harmonize the brain, nervous system, and our mind. Onto the practical application of Tapping, that’s in four easy steps.
- Focus on HOW you know your block, what’s your symptom, how do you describe it? Make sure to include every detail about it.
- Give that experience and intensity on a scale of zero to ten, with ten being the most intense. What’s your number? Find something higher than an intensity number of six.
- Focus on the part that stands out the most, often the worst part, and put all your focus and attention there (which usually kicks up that intensity number to be higher).
- The final step, Tap! Yes, in the midst of your stress, writer’s block, Tap on the tapping points. Tap each point five to ten times, make sure to tap with enough pressure that you hear a patting sound. While you’re Tapping, keep focused on HOW you know your block (your evidence, proof), the better you aim at it, while tapping, the deeper tapping will work to resolve your stress. Some people like to repeat “let it go” while they tap, which is a willingness to release what’s got them stuck, and if you like that you can say those words else just aim at how you know and that will be enough.
Tap a few rounds, meaning go around the points a few times, then end with a nice exhale. Then in your mind, go to a wonderful memory or experience that makes you feel easy, comfortable, relaxed. It could be your favorite pillow, a hot shower, a new car, fresh flowers, whatever it is, just go be there and make that experience a ‘ten’ on a scale of zero to ten. Sink into the relief and enjoy. Then go back to your block and notice what’s left, what stands out? What’s your intensity number about it now? Did the number drop? Repeat the process of tapping on HOW you know and alternating with a peaceful memory (if you don’t have one, make one up), until you experience calm, clarity, confidence, and connecting with your inspiration and creativity.
Tapping can help quiet the inner critic, help you neutralize distractions and get focused, help you process the fear of being seen or having your script read, help you get unstuck, and even process unresolved past issues that all too often are truly the root of your stress.
- Tap for a few minutes and keep alternating with a happy memory.
- If you’re still stuck, give yourself a break; know things are working it’s just there could be some significant momentum behind the intensity of HOW you know.
- Momentum includes thoughts, beliefs, expectations, memories, and time. You can’t just turn a six hundred mile an hour airplane around on a dime, it needs to take a wide turn. So, don’t take score too soon.
- A few rounds of tapping should have you feeling more relaxed, peaceful, and calm.
- Yes, you can tap on both sides of your side-eye, under-eye, and collar bone points or you can just tap on one side.
- Be willing and persistent.
Stress is what’s underlying your writer’s block. Tapping relaxes the stressed brain and body and clears the path to the creative thinking mind. No matter the block, obstacle, evidence, proof, and no matter what you’re writing (spec, treatment, pilot, episode, season, short, etc)… Tapping helps your story flow.
Go for a walk because it’s nice outside, call your friends to catch up, enjoy a hot shower just because, and when you’re stressed, struggling, or stuck, TAP!
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Suzanne Gundersen is the Founder of ScreenwriteNOW and Inner Story Consultant who mentors & teaches screenwriters and industry creatives how to clear the path that lets their story flow. Her work supports individuals and groups, she speaks & leads online workshops and programs. Visit www.screenwritenow.com to download her free e-book and schedule a complimentary consultation to discuss your needs & goals.
Since 2015, she has skillfully helped screenwriters overcome fears, worries & blocks on demand, get focused and sharpen creativity, build tremendous confidence, and deepen their emotional worldview into wisdom & truth, to hook audiences into wanting more. She uses natural tools & techniques that relieve tension & stress, so her clients become more authentic and embodied in their work.
Her programs “Just Write Now” and “Get Pitch Ready” have helped thousands of screenwriters get focused on their creative rhythm & flow, effortlessly finish scripts, and pitch with confidence. “My Worldview” is a program that helps writers transform their personal hero’s journey, so they can write deeply connected storylines as an expression of their authentic value, emotional truth, and wisdom.
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