Before I started this blog, I had stopped writing for a while and had become inactive in the creative group I belong to. I had a few ideas for book plots, however I was getting stuck and feeling uninspired and overwhelmed. A lot has changed in the past few years of my life, and I needed to rebalance my focus overall for a while; however, I made the mistake in saying I was “done” with writing.
As most creative people know, it’s often not entirely something you choose…it’s part of who you are. You feel the urge, and when inspiration hits, nothing will satisfy you like getting your thoughts out of your head and being able to visualize them on some form of medium (on the screen, on a good ol’ piece of paper, on a canvas, etc.).
Creative block/writer’s block…the phrase has become a cliché, but that doesn’t diminish the agony it can cause. I usually feel it the most when I have the desire or need to write, but the inability to articulate what I’m thinking or feeling…and not being able to feels crippling, elementary.
And now that I’m back in the WordPress world, I have several unfinished drafts either saved or thrown in the online trash can, because I was certain there would be no ending to them. Not because I was giving up, but because even the beginning felt lackluster and forced.
So, here is my usual process for getting around (or over) the creative block (it’s particularly geared at writing, but can be easily tweaked to the art form of your choice). It’s nothing you probably haven’t already heard, but just a reminder:
- First, I just write—even if it’s about not being able to write (like this post). I try writing on a computer, or in a notepad, or on a random piece of paper.
- Next, I take a break from it to explore other mediums of creativity (art, music, reading, etc.).
- After this, I try and get out of the house and interact with people, hoping the social aspect of it all will bring forth ideas. (I’ve even sat in a public place pretending to mind my own business, while actually eavesdropping on passerbys for dialogue ideas…. Does that make me a creepy snooper?)
- Then, if I need to, I take a break…hopefully, a calculated, timed break…to focus on myself and/or other interests and goals, or just to relax and reduce the pressure I’ve put on myself.
- When this cycle has completed, I’ll start again at #1. And this time, when I went back to the beginning, changing over from storytelling to blogging has helped me regather my thoughts. If one post isn’t thrilling me, I can leave it in the drafts for a while as I work on other pieces. Maybe one day I’ll try to write a novel again, but for the meantime, you’ll find me blogging here.
And here are a few good resources (especially if you are using books for inspiration as step #2):
- The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron
- Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, by Anne Lamott
- Moonlight Blogger: Essays From the Subversive Copy Editor Blog, by Carol Fisher Saller
- On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, by Stephen King
- Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within, by Natalie Goldberg