Holism is a social science philosophy that asserts social and natural systems, theories, and situations are better understood when perceived as a whole rather than the sum of their parts. 

It suggests that everything is interconnected, and that while it may be useful to break something down into its individual parts and study their roles independently, it is also equally, if not more important to study how they all work together within the larger system they are part of by studying the actual system itself. 

Holism has been applied to many studies and disciplines – ecology, linguistics, holistic medicine, holistic psychology, to name a few. 

The first place I encountered the philosophy of holism was at the start of my anthropology degree. As a discipline, anthropology takes a broad, holistic approach. Humans and human history are complex subject matter, and by studying and making connections between human behaviour, human biology, linguistics, societies and culture in the past, present and potential for future, we are more likely to grasp an understanding than if we were to study each part individually. Everything is considered in relation to everything else.

For instance, it wouldn’t be the most enlightening to study an ancient piece of painted pottery without also looking at that culture’s class system, economics and gender politics to find out who might have made the pot, why they made it, and what it was used for.

It’s really all about storytelling, building up a narrative of what’s happened, painting a picture of what’s really going on. Holism allows us to do that for many things, and it can work for writers, too, when trying to figure out their work and creative process.

Using Holism To Overcome Creative Blocks

It’s normal to have creative blocks, and sometimes they aren’t that bad. Maybe they don’t last that long or we know exactly what’s needed to overcome them. 

But other times, we may have creative blocks for weeks, months, or years. 

These can be very frustrating and disheartening. And none of the cliched ‘easy fixes’ will work – go on a walk, read a book, do something unrelated to writing, or just look up some prompts! If only it was that easy.

When we have these debilitating creative blocks, it’s important to look at things holistically because clearly there is something deeper going on at the larger, systemic level. There may be multiple factors affecting why you’re stuck with writing, and even just bringing attention to them can alleviate things, because it begins to feel tangible, fixable.

With holism, I implore you to be your own anthropologist and to study yourself. Study the whole of your life and the parts that make up the whole of you. Take a step back and ask, what is really going on here in my life that is blocking me from my creativity?

Often, there are multiple answers. 

Need help? Let’s work together! Book a free consultation to learn how I can help you.

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