I often get mental blocks when sit down to write a math exam; however rarely suffer from creativity / writing or mental blockages if you will. However today I sat down to write a new article (for an online magazine) and although I had a topic in front of me and some stats ready, I felt empty. It is a fairly scary feeling, I must admit. I walked around, read a book, watched some boring football game for a bit, sat down and again … empty. I went to make some tea, read a magazine, sat down to chat with my boyfriend and went back to my computer again … decided to blog as I realised I am having a creativity blockage.
Whenever I am ready to write, I usually have a fairly clear idea and a plan of the action set up in my mind. Although while writing, a story might take some turns and twists, I usually know the angle and the spices. I also need a certain level of excitement about the topic or the process in order to complete the task. Today though was a totally different day.
It has been raining for weeks and the temperature dropped. Although I was born in the country where minus 30C is nothing unusual (in winter), living in a warm country spoils you great deal. Looking back though I remember that I have always struggled with colder temperatures. Mental and physical hibernation is like a curse every year when winter comes.
So I started to wonder… If I struggle with such blockages, I am sure many others do too. How professional writers cope with them? For some who is making their living by writing, creativity block can be life threatening.
How to unblock? Well, here what I do:
1. Sometimes It Will Suck
Rule number one is to accept that you are blocked and most likely is going to write shit and it will suck. Oh well! Punishing yourself is not going to move you forward or improve your work. Forgive yourself! Even very talented writers write rubbish from time to time. Well, get it out of your system. Write it. Just maybe don’t send it out to the publisher or your editor or whoever your final reader is.
2. Stop Polishing!
I have noticed that sometimes people stuck half way through, going back to the beginning again and again polishing the written already copy. Look, just stop it! Write the entire thing, treat it as a draft and polish one or two times when finish the piece. You must have your draft written before the final copy anyway. I am also a control freak and a perfectionist at times but you need to get over and stop polishing the unfinished work.
3. Walk Away
Sometimes the blockage strikes after a first sentence. If the work is not moving at all, walk away from it, do more research or engage in something else. Your muse can re-visit you couple of minutes/hours later. It also can be helpful to start brain storming slightly non-related ideas – you never know where it will take you. You might even change the angle of your initial idea, unblocking yourself.
4. Personal Problems
Over-thinking current problems can also causes your creativity block. If you are not focused on what you are writing but concentrating on an argument with your partner or unpaid bills, sick children or problems with your mother, even politics (unless you are writing about them lol) or any other personal related problems, most likely you won’t be able to complete your writing. You are a writer, you need to give yourself away to the writing. Sorry, no multitasking here either you are a male or a female 🙂
5. Cut In Smaller Pieces
It might appear basic but people often forget that they can break their work down if the blockage pursues. Sometimes I can get stuck with facts means I need to go back and do more research; however don’t feel like it. This is fine. Write the parts of your work you feel like doing now and get back to the factual piece later. I usually love research. It helps to find the angle if you don’t have one. However it might be dry or daunting so you can skip it for the time being, throwing ideas on the piece of paper, coming back to the research later on.
6. Writing Does Not Like Chaos
You could also feeling stuck due to the unorganized working space. Writers unlike engineers and physics often say FEEL rather than calculated or worked out. Writers need to feel like writing; otherwise little work will be done or your work will suck. Organise your work space! Clean the room up as well as your mind! Sometimes blockage occurs when there is too much going on in the room or in the mind. Try and sort it out before starting to write or go to the library, cafe, to the beach or where ever you FEEL like writing.
7. Not Feeling Like It
If you do not feel like writing at all, leave it for another day (unless you are under deadline pressure) or maybe you are not a writer and better of becoming an engineer 🙂
I am now off for a run. Physical activity can stimulate your writing ability. I am definitely going back to my article tonight; however do not forget to mix your life up, switch activities and stay positive. Stressing out and becoming negative will most likely ruin your ability to create a nice piece.