Writer's Block. The enemy of all storytellers! It doesn't matter how much you want to write. It doesn't even matter if you have lots of good ideas. When the creative juices have been stemmed, it can be very frustrating and demoralizing. And I'm writing about it this week, because as it happens, I'm experiencing a bout of it now. In cases like this, there are a few things I like to try, and I thought I'd share them with you.
I'll start with my go-to method first, which may be advice you've heard before: I look for inspiration. For me, reading a good book will always get me fired up! A compelling story, an insightful metaphor or exciting character can often get me in the mood to write. I often find myself envious of other writers (in the admiring, "how do I get to that level" kind of way), and try to use this as fuel to both get words on paper and elevate my own writing.
Of course, I think a good album, movie or even a well-written episode of anime can achieve the same effect. It's all storytelling, right? Whatever gets you fired up. I can even be cliché and talk about viewing a gorgeous sunset or whatever, but you get the idea. What I've found is the hardest part about dealing with writer's block is just finding the motivation to write in the first place, so whatever gets you there. Which brings me to my next step...
Just write something. Anything.
It can be nonsense. Maybe it's a scene I know I'll heavily re-edit later, or maybe it's a scene that won't even make it in the book at all. Maybe it's cow tomato garden disco gibberish. I find if I can just force myself to write, before long I've cleared the clog and I'm full steam ahead in no time. It might be a slow trickle at first, and that in and of itself can sound exhausting and tedious, but the ideas are in there, right? Just gotta get the words on the page. The rest will come on its own.
I like to give myself plenty of time, so I don't feel stressed or beat myself up about whatever I manage to get down. Some relaxing music, some hot tea... creating a conducive atmosphere for writing is as important to the process as anything. And here's the other thing: you know that effect when you listen to a certain kind of music at bedtime, and then before long hearing that kind of music at anytime will make you sleepy? I think using music to train the brain in being creative is totally possible too. For me, it's LO-FI Hip-Hop beats! Haha.
Not to mention, music engages the brain in a way that helps free me from meandering thoughts, distracting noises, etc. - just like if I were studying. But if even that doesn't work...
I don't mean from writing. Although, I think there's cases where that might be helpful too. I mean get away from the noise. That's my plan this weekend.
I kid you not, it seems my best writing always comes sitting in an airport terminal waiting for my flight. That's actually where I started writing Wis' Apothecary, back when it was just a fleeting idea. Why? Think about it. What else is there to do?!
And that can be the problem writing at home. Something always needs to get done, or be cleaned up. My cat wants attention, or my roommate will ask if I want to watch a movie. And because I'm a pretty social person who suffers from serious FOMO, I'll always jump to hang out with friends or hop onto my PC to play video games if I'm asked. Obviously socializing isn't a bad thing, and shutting myself out completely would be unhealthy. But shutting it all out for a little bit? Maybe that's what I, or you, need.
To that end, if I'm really struggling, I'll get away. Now, I'm not renting a cabin in the middle of the woods for the weekend (yet). But a local café, a (respectful) friend's house or even the library can all be great places to escape for several hours and write. And of course, shut off the smartphone.
I like writing at my neighborhood tea bar, but this weekend I think I'm really going to step away somewhere I can spend the entire day writing. I'll just be sure to leave my cat plenty of food in her bowl.
But if nothing else, just remember...
It will all be okay.
In my case, I'm not punching a deadline for my book. Start to finish, Welcome to Wis' Apothecary took six months to write and get published. I'm certainly not trying to brag, but I understand that's a quick turn. However, I also understand that shouldn't necessarily be the bar I set for myself. First and foremost, I write because I enjoy it. The last thing I want is to make it feel like a chore, or something I have to do. So what's the rush?
When I start to get stressed because I'm not writing enough or haven't made as much progress as I want, I remind myself this. And I breathe. It will be okay. It can take six months, or two years - so long as I'm happy with the end result.
Not to mention, the pandemic continues to recede, and life is returning to normal. I'm trying to enjoy what that feels like, and you should too. We're all busier again, and that's a good thing. Time management is ultimately key, but that could be an entirely different blog post.
Is writer block something you're struggling with? If so, hopefully something said here will help! And if you've struggled or are struggling, I'd love to hear your coping mechanisms. Let me know in the comments!
Now if you excuse me, I gotta go follow my own advice. Until next week, take care!