A writer is a writer because even when there is no hope… she keeps writing anyway. –Junot Diaz
Writer’s block is creativity block and it can be frustrating. Many writers claim not to get it at all. More power to them, I say. Unfair are those same writers’ claims that it doesn’t exist at all. I have never broken a bone in my life–but does that mean that the malady of broken bones does not exist?
I do get blocked from time to time. When I am being creative on a regular basis, I find my bouts of the Block occur less often. But they can still crop up. Most often, they occur when I am feeling under-the-weather, mentally or physically tired. Tapping into the Muse is all about tapping into your own subconscious. Therefore you have to be in a healthy mental/physical state in order for this process to occur.
Some of my remedies for beating Creativity Block:
- Look at the Work in a different format: If you work in mostly an electronic medium, then printing out your work in a physical manifestation– that you can manipulate and annotate–can have a powerful effect on your ability to “see” where your work is going.
- Draw a Map: Sketch out a place that figures in your work: the character’s general neighborhood, a country or continent on a fantasy map, the floor plan of a house or castle, etc.
- Change your weapon: If you write in pen, switch to a pencil or start typing. If you write on the computer, pull out a notebook full of blank, creamy irresistible pages screaming to be filled by your hand. Let your words run freely off the tip of your pen without fear of self-editing.
- Set doable, consistent short term goals for yourself: Set a small but consistent daily word count or scene goal for yourself and push yourself to stick to it even when you don’t always feel like it. It all comes down to putting your butt in the chair and doing. Some days, you’ll notice yourself going over your goal without you having noticed. Forming the habit of production goes a long way to stave off creativity block in the future.
- Graphically organize: Not sure where your story is heading? Set up a chart, a bubble map, a diagram, a flowchart, a calendar or some other graphic organizer that depicts characters against a time frame (or by location or some other qualifier)
- Word Count sprint: Set up a small period of time (1 hour at the most) in which you will write x amount of words. Check out the hashtag #1k1hr on twitter to see where others have done similarly.
- Visualize: Spend fifteen minutes before a writing session by closing your eyes and visualizing a locale in your story. Without worry of where you will insert it, begin your writing session by typing out a description of this place–include ALL the senses: sight, sound, smell, taste, feel. If you feel inspired to keep going, give a brief history of the place, listing the three most important events to have taken place there.
- Mix it up: Pit one element of your story against a qualifier it does not normally compare with. In other words, describe a place in relation to time, or a character with respects to the five closest relationships that character has ever experienced in his/her life, etc.
- Lists: Make a list of 20. It can be 20 of anything. Head the list with the question that the list is answering. “What are the 20 things I know about this character?” “What are the 20 most interesting things about this settiing?” “What are the 20 most interesting things that happen during this plot?” etc.
- Be Flexible: Your creativity block might be your Muse’s way of telling you that you are headed in a wrong direction. Go with the flow and see where it takes you. But stay disciplined: Don’t allow it to distract or deter you.
- Believe in yourself : Believe you can do it. When you believe, you can achieve.
90% of life is about showing up. –Linda Lael Miller, best-selling author
Do you have a remedy for helping you with creativity block that I haven’t mentioned? What is it?