Today’s guest post is written by Tom Dale. Tom is a staff writer at eBooks by Sainsbury’s. Tom has written about a subject that might be near and not so dear to many writers.
How to Work Through Writer’s Block
We all know how good it feels when you are tapping away with endless creativity flowing from your brain through your fingertips. When everything is going according to your plan and your writing just ebbs naturally and quickly it can seem the easiest task possible. Then dreaded writers block strikes. It can happen at any time, over night, after big life events, or becoming too entangled in the story. Once there, it can last in extreme cases a matter of years. When the mist of writer’s block descends on your creative mind, things can grind to a halt.
It genuinely happens to everybody and is nothing to get too het up about. Sometimes our creative flow gets jammed and it seems insurmountable, but there are plenty of simple, effective ways to shift it. Here I’ve shared the ways I get around it.
Stretch Your Legs
Although it may seem cliché, getting outside and going for a long walk alone really helps me. I will go wherever is convenient depending on my location – a forest, park or even through the city. I will try to sit for long periods while on the excursion and observe the world as it passes. This meditative exercise will help to clear your mind. I like to think of the creative thoughts on a particular story as a bottle and sometimes these thoughts will try to emerge too fast and bottleneck. Getting away from your work can help to get the flow going at a steady rate again.
Almost contrary to the previous suggestion is to go out and submerse yourself in other people. Go into your town or city and observe others actions, people watch, speak to a stranger in a cafe and find out about their life, spend time with lots of friends. Remember, you are creating characters and writing for an audience, both of which are essentially people. By engaging and surrounding yourself with others, even if they could not be more different to your characters or audience, you will inspire yourself again.
Engage in a Favourite Hobby
People often talk of the meditative effect of practical tasks like gardening or cookery, and I believe this is an often-overlooked method of relieving writer’s block. When we are writing we are exercising our creative mind extensively. To give this area of your brain a rest while focusing completely on a practical task is a welcome break. I find that a day spent engaging with something practical can be the best way to relieve the mental blockage. It takes your mind completely away from what is causing the block and when you return you will often find you feel creatively renewed.
Switch Writing Tasks
Similarly, engaging in writing that is completely unrelated to the story you are working on is also helpful. Work on some blog posts, an article for publication, a short story or some poetry (even if you don’t think it is any good or will ever show anyone). While still utilising your skills as a writer you are removing yourself and your mind from the area in which you are getting stuck. This can allow your brain to reorder itself with regards to the story.
Write What You Want
One major and well-recognised source of writer’s block is becoming too embroiled in what you believe your audience wants to hear. You know the old trait among musicians that when fame begins to set in and they believe they know what the audience likes about their music, their next work lacks the spark they had before? While audience awareness is essential, to become overly aware of your audience can cause literary paralysis.
Regain Your Writing Confidence
This brings me to the crux of the issue of writer’s block, of what lies at its heart. I believe that it essentially stems from writer’s anxiety. We lose confidence in what we are doing and therefore lose the ability to commit pen to page. All these methods are really ways to distract yourself temporarily from this anxiety in the hope it will not return when we come back to our work. In this vein, to read back over one’s work will help you to realise that “yes I can do this” and will also remind you of the direction you were headed before the black set in, hopefully allowing the creative mind to flow once again.
Penmen, heed my words and hopefully you will give yourselves the metaphorical mental enema and stay blockage free. Good luck!
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