Sunday, 9 September 2012

Tackling Writer's Block

Let's face it, my fellow writers, we've all been there. Whether you write poetry, prose, scripts or non-fiction every writer has had one (if not several) of those: 'my muse! She hath deserted me!' moments.
    You know it's true. 
    Writing is a passion of mine, and I hope to be published one day. As such, I'm not going to sit here and pretend to be an expert on the subject because a) I'm not and b) I don't think such a person exists anyway. Even so, I'm going to tell you guys (you guys being anyone who reads this) some little tips that I have learned over the years and find really useful when dealing with writer's block.
    If there's one thing I've noticed when myself or anyone else I know that writes is suffering from writer's block, it's that writers always seem to feel bad when they're not writing. You can stop that attitude right there. Every writer has a blockage sometimes, so why make yourself feel even worse about it? If there's one thing we know for certain about writer's block, it's that it always goes away. I've never met a writer who's suffered from the block and then never again picked up their pen.
   Personally, I believe that how you choose to tackle your block depends on whether or not you're working towards a deadline.
   If you have told yourself that you want whatever it is you're working on to be done by a certain time and, unlike me, you work by setting yourself daily targets (1000 words a day, for example) then I find one of the best things to do is to find a new page. Turn to a fresh page in your notebook or open a new word document or find a scrap piece of paper - whatever works for you - and start writing.
    Sounds sort of impossible, huh? Well, the idea behind this task is to just keep writing. You don't have to suddenly scribble down a masterpiece; in fact nobody but you ever has to see what it is you write. Write about what your desk looks like; whatever you can see; whatever you can smell; whatever you can feel. Just write and don't stop. It doesn't have to make sense, in fact it'll be utter tripe, but it'll clear out the cobwebs and you'll rediscover your muse.
    If, on the other hand, you're writing with a very laid back - practically nonexistent - schedule in mind, you have some more time on your hands.
    There's no shame in being stuck, so give yourself a break and leave your writing somewhere safe for a while. If you're anything like me then you can only write when you're fairly relaxed, so go and take a shower. Stand under that water until your skin wrinkles if you want, put the radio on and do a naked dance; you could even sing along. Nobody can judge you if they can't see you.
    If you're clean enough already, then do anything but write. Don't think about it. Your unconscious is a wonderful thing, and it'll continue working away for you while you let other things - like buttering toast and that guy/girl from work - take over the forefront of your mind. Read that book Mindy from down the street recommended to you; watch that film you've wanted to see for ages; go to that new restaurant with your friends that you keep forlornly walking past. The greatest source of inspiration is life, and you'll be amazed with how many ideas you'll come back to your paper and pen with.
    So far I've assumed that people only suffer from writer's block when they're midway through writing something. I know only too well from my own experiences earlier this year that the dreaded block can also strike when a writer has recently finished a creative piece, and subsequently finds it impossible to write something new.
    While the blank page is a creative outlet, it can also be rather daunting. All you have in front of you is a wide, blank space that is just waiting - expecting - to be filled with your literary greatness. Whether it's the first chapter of an epic novel or the simplest haiku, you always expect an awful lot of yourself when you decide to start a new project.
    My advice? Doodle!
    That probably sounds kind of weird, but it's amazing how nonthreatening a fresh page looks when it's covered with grumpy faces of that teacher you hated in school and stick-men practicing positions from the Karma Sutra. Soon your doodles will become words and, before you know it, you've already started your next masterpiece.
    Now for my last suggestion (and if you're still reading you have my eternal thanks for humouring my attempts to give you advice) and that is, quite simply, to go to sleep.
    How many of you have found your muse abandoning you in the early hours of the morning when you should be tucked up in bed? There's a reason for that; she's trying to tell you something. 
    Don't get me wrong, there's nothing the matter with writing during the night. Many writers - myself included - often find that you gain inspiration when the worries of the day are far away, and you are left with nothing but the blissful solitude that the evening brings. Even so, not to sound too much like your mother, sleeping during the night is also a good idea. There's almost nothing better for the creative mind than a good night's sleep; a chance for your brain to recharge and possibly give you a few crazy ideas while you dream.
    I'm sure that there are hundreds of other ways to push through writer's block, these are simply the tips and tricks that I have found the most helpful. I hope this has been somewhat helpful for anyone out there who's currently suffering from a blockage; even if this post only helps one person that's good enough for me.
   Just remember that, however you choose to tackle your writer's block, make sure you return to the written word refreshed.
    That's enough from me for now. Thanks for reading!
    Toodles! J.

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