Okay, first of all, I don’t believe in “writer’s block.” In my mind, “writer’s block” is an excuse. A big, fat excuse to avoid writing when life gets busy or difficult. There seems to be this myth floating around that writers are creative sponges, that we sit down and words hit the page instantaneously. While we all have creative bursts that allow for hours of furious, ecstatic writing, a lot of the work is actually sluggish. It requires dedication and a good dose of self-motivation. This reality can make work seem daunting…. So I’m offering you a list of ways to get writing even when you’re missing that creative bug. Obviously these are optional and don’t apply to everyone.
Read for at least twenty minutes before a writing session
This one always saves me. If I’m in a writing funk nothing kickstarts my desire to create like reading another person’s work. It reminds me of potential, what my work could be if I’d only sit down and start writing. What I read depends on my mood or what I’m working on. If I’m feeling discouraged, I might read books on writing. If I’m looking to mirror a certain style, I might look for books with similar settings, tones or characters. I often hear people say they don’t want to “copy” another writer’s work. Well gosh, I hope not because that’s plagiarism but looking to another writer’s work to learn and become inspired? That’s a part of the learning process.
Read some of your past work
For some reason, sifting through old work helps inspire me. I think this is because every story reminds me of the positive and negative emotions associated with writing. Remembering that inspiration and frustration will always be present makes new projects feel less hopeless. I also find that reading out loud does wonders. It’s interesting to notice how your opinion changes based on the way you read.
Make yourself a schedule
This is why I blog. Knowing that no matter how I’m feeling I’ve got to post three articles a week makes writing feel like a responsibility. For some, feeling this way might seem negative… but I enjoy feeling accountable and believe that a certain amount of routine can encourage productivity. While I encourage routine, however, I’d caution that one must remain flexible. It’s currently 1:00 a.m. and I should probably be sleeping but I feel a desire to write so here I am, wired and restless. If the schedule needs to be bent, I say bend it. It’s there to encourage creation, not hinder it.
Go for a walk or a run
Walks are more than a way to clear your head. While I think the first assumption is that walks help because fresh air is rather therapeutic, walks are also great because they offer opportunities to people watch or note new details about the world. I can’t tell you how many times the colour of a door, a strange shoe abandoned in the road or the style choices of a fellow citizen has sparked new ideas. Even if those ideas aren’t directly related to what you’re working on, you’d be surprised at how transferable creativity can be.
Analyze your surroundings
For some of the same reasons I suggest walking, analyzing your surroundings is a sure way to find connections. It’s easy to get busy and forget to consider all the small details that makes a space unique. Look around. Right now, as a analyze my room, I notice a pair of antique opera glasses, a bag of half filled chocolate chips, dried eucalyptus tied in raffia among many, many other objects. There’s so much to work with. Why, for example, could a certain character not part with said strands of eucalyptus? Who did the antique glasses belong to? Of course I know these stories but if I pause for just a moment and consider them through new eyes, I’m introduced to a myriad of wonderful beginnings.
Learn new words
Woo! The joys of new words. I recently discovered a love for scrabble (as someone who loves reading and writing I don’t know why it’s taken me until the age of twenty-two to discover this game but, that said, better late than never!) I also suggest checking out freerice.com, a website that inspires learning. Their mission: “For every correct answer you choose, 10 grains of rice are raised to help end world hunger through the World Food Programme.” Trust me when I say it’s easy to get caught up playing. 10 grains might not sound like a lot but they sure add up. Then, of course, there’s the good old dictionary read. Sit back and relax with a fat dictionary, scan the pages for words you don’t know and learn their definitions. I just inherited a desktop dictionary and plan to make this little exercise a part of my daily routine.
Write somewhere new
I’ll admit to the cliche. I love writing in cafes. While I adore my apartment and recently did some revamping to make it more “writer friendly,” experiencing new spaces keeps me feeling stimulated. Unfortunately visiting cafes on a daily basis gets expensive so in the summers (because trying this in the winter would ruin me) I tend to sit by the river, in the backyard or in random fields of my choosing.
So these are just a few of the ways I pull myself out of a writing funk. I’d love to hear your thoughts. How do you get out of a writing funk? Please drop a comment below!