There are times when the well of creativity seems to dry up and, as hard as you try, you don’t know how to get it all kick started again.
You search for advice on what to do to move past stubborn writer’s block. Mostly you will find the same answer over and over, and that is, to “keep writing.” In fact, I’ve written that mantra many times on this blog as well.
Unfortunately, sometimes when you hit the bottom of your inspirational well saying ‘Just write,’ can feel overly simplistic and taunting, like it should be the simplest thing to do.
These periods of inactivity are common to everyone in every endeavor — they are usually called vacations.
If you could “just write” that’s what you’d be doing, right?
I just went through a period like this. There were many times during the past couple weeks that my intention to write ended with me staring at a blank computer screen, saying to myself, “So, just start writing.” But, my frustrated brain would snap back, “Write about what?”
I also developed a good case of “shiny object syndrome” – you know, when you get diverted and sidetracked with just about anything that looks halfway interesting. When you’re struggling with a lack of focus it is easy to get lost in the black hole of the internet, Facebook, Twitter, various news sites…mindless moments where I didn’t have to do my own work.
So, this time, I tried something different:
I cut myself some slack and allowed myself to not write if I didn’t feel like it. Instead, I read blogs, magazines, books and even old letters my dad had written when he served in the Korean War; I rode my bike, walked my dog, wrote emails and posted on Facebook. I gave myself permission to quit the pressure to perform and produce.
… simply giving myself permission to not have to write actually helped me want to get back to writing sooner.
And yes, I continued to write a teensy bit, but only when I wanted to and with no expectations to write the Great American Novel.
With the pressure to produce lifted, my thoughts and insights started to soar a bit, and my anxiety about not writing lessened. Rather than making myself stick to a schedule of, “It’s 8 a.m. and I’m going to write for 2 hours whether I want to or not,” and then being completely disappointed in my results, I let my brain play hooky for several days. No judgment, no expectations, no negative self-talk. It was quite freeing, actually.
These periods of inactivity are common to everyone in every endeavor — they are usually called vacations. They help people get away from pressures so they can become rejuvenated. But us creative folks, for some reason we feel like we have to be at it constantly to keep the juices flowing, to nurture the muse and keep hammering out the words – even if they’re just junk words – to prove that we are writers.
Here’s what I found:
- Periods of staleness may come and go, again and again, throughout our writing careers, and that’s okay.
- Use them to revive yourself – your spirit, senses, psyche.
- Do other things to get your head away from worrying about writing – walk, read, listen to music, write letters. Whatever you enjoy. Perhaps get involved in an activity that you are really good at that will help you feel like you are succeeding.
- Daydream, pray, meditate, sleep.
- If you do write during this period, no judging it! No pressure!
- Write smaller projects – for example, a new blog post, journal pages, or letters.
- Go with the flow. Don’t fight the process.
For me, simply giving myself permission to not have to write for a short time actually helped me want to get back to writing sooner. It was like sweeping away the cobwebs and letting some new light shine in.
This may not work for everyone, but it helped get me back on track.
Have you ever hit your inspirational bottom? What did you do? You can leave a comment here.