At the very early stage of my writing, I was confronted by a strange writing term- what on earth was writer’s block? I legit believed it was a place where writers live (don’t judge me, I was barely nine at the time, or maybe fifteen and a half. Still.)
I didn’t know it had a name; but there were times when I’d run out of writing ideas and experience a stop in the flow of my writing, with no clue as to why the flow suddenly stopped or clogged, or whatever. So when I eventually found out what writer’s block meant, it was great to know that I didn’t have a problem. (Like, Yass! I’m finally not the only one that goes through this). Sadly, most of the answers I found online were quarter the solutions to my problem- I still experienced writer’s block on a daily.
Like the word ‘block’, all creatives experience a ‘insert creative title’ block. From musicians to rappers, to visual artist, to illustrators, photographers and of course– writers.
So I think it’s unfair to always categorize a stop in this flow, to a struggle that only writer’s deal with, but rather to something all creative persons deal with.
Related: Zimbabwean Writer, Amanda Makombe on Adding Value to the Universe through Writing
In search of an end or a part-time solution to this issue, I began documenting ‘my block moments’ and practical ways I thought I was dealing with them; eventually, they’d work and I’d get back on my writings. And although I still experience writer’s block once and again (I know it’s just me being lazy)
Caveat; At this point, I must add that this is a very (very) long article. (I tried not to make it a book though) But if you’re looking to get effective techniques to avoid experiencing the block or overcoming it, here are some personal helpful tips:
- Just Breathe– Take time out to breathe. Take a walk, jog, run, talk to yourself. Inhale the freshness of a new type of air and just let go of everything for a while.
- Never Stop– Write that song, that book, that article, that nonsense. Sing, paint, take a photo, draw, do whatever it is that you do at every opportunity you get. If it helps, I have a little journal that I take everywhere with me and jot down at the slightest opportunity- you never know where inspiration comes from. Plus, this constantly keeps you in the flow of your creativity.
- Be Ya’ Own Muse- Create your inspiration, because if you always look for inspiration, you’ll become stuck when you can’t find any. However, when you learn to create your inspiration, you’ll never run out of ideas, because even staring at the ceiling would be inspiration enough; I mean, how else did somebody create a poem about looking at the ceiling?
- Do Whatchu’ Love– (Are we still saying this in 2018?) Well, maybe you haven’t heard it enough. Do only the things that give you fulfillment and peace, or you would constantly experience the block. When you do what you love, it’ll be easier for you to create and find your daily dose of inspiration. Don’t get into a creative work only because of the advantage it comes with.
- Create Your Own Niche– Create the part you love and immerse yourself in you. When you create your own niche, you are not pressured into catching up with anybody else and not losing your breath to the point of stopping your flow. This allows you to constantly tweak your work, your way. Constantly expand your creative knowledge and learn to diversify. Widen your knowledge, but don’t get so immersed in other people’s work that you lose yourself in it.
- Find your Reward System– Save your best treat as your reward system. (This is my hardest life-task by the way). It propels you to run the race and fight to the finish in regards to your creative work. Most of the times, when I have to write and I think I’m experiencing the block, it’s probably me just being lazy or procrastinating, so I consciously put a ban on my favourite treats until I get my work done- which, truly helps to jolt me back to writing. So whatever works for you- taking a break or having the break whilst you work, find yourself a reward system.
- Try Something New– One time I found myself experiencing the block, I decided to try my hands on some songwriting, although I didn’t come up with the best Grammy lyrics, it definitely inspired a writing I wrote later at the time. These days, when I’m experiencing writer’s block, I tend to sing, or draw (some anti-Picasso, going-straight-to-the-the-thrash drawings) or sleep, or even watch TV- by the way, let nobody tell you that watching TV is not a way to overcome writer’s block, it could work sometimes (I watch TV and the next thing, I’m helping them write the book of the show). So when stuck in your work, try something new and most importantly try to connect the two process together, (like sleeping and eventually singing about dreams.) Trying something new could also mean trying a new genre. Your creative block might result from a constant creative method which bores your imagination or thought process, making you stuck. Try other genres in your creative fields, and if you want to stick to your genre, keep it innovative.
- Be Accountable to Somebody– If you don’t have family, friends or anyone that’ll have your time, there are a number of apps that keep you accountable to yourself. Although seeing as you control what apps you open, real persons might be your best bet. In my case, my younger sister is my why-aren’t-you-writing, why-did-you-stop-halfway, can-you-get-this writing done? buzzer and I don’t exactly know if love her for it.
- Find Your Creative Mood– This is applicable for people like me who love to ‘get into the mood for everything’. When I’m experiencing the block or just not feeling it, I get into my writing zone- which is me wearing my glasses and headphones, cuddling into my bed with a pen, book and my laptop in front of me, (I can’t say why, but when I do this, the magic just happens and I find myself writing so much- half of which never makes sense). When I first noticed that this was my thing, I tried it a couple of times when I wasn’t ‘in the mood’ and I’d get ‘into the mood’. Although you shouldn’t have to be ‘in the mood’ to be creative, when you’re experiencing the block, then you bet’ turn on your mood zone and get to work.
Never forget that as creatives- we create, so when one thing is not working, some other things would. And while I truly hope these techniques work out for you, if you’ve discovered other effective ways to overcome writer’s block, do find a way share it with the rest of us. Gracias!
Gracious Ernest is a storyteller and an LLB student at the University of Lagos. She is very passionate about her faith and gender equality. As an ardent MUNer, she seeks to proffer solutions to global issues and impact diverse communities.
Gracious spends her free time learning new languages and hopes to become fluent in four languages by 2020. Follow her on Twitter.