Disclaimer: Some of the links below are part of a collaboration. I do not get paid for any clicks and I only post what I truly believe is helpful.
Typically, I see writer’s block posts and articles and can’t help but roll my eyes. Because writing isn’t the vocation that pays my bills, I have the luxury of not going into the dark depths of anger and frustration that a lot of writers tend to feel stuck in when they are on a deadline or have to get something out but can’t find the words. Too, I’m a big believer in the idea that writers are ALWAYS working because everything we experience and observe is, for lack of a better term, ‘research’. And, to be fair, I did manage to feel some helplessness in grad school when something (say, I don’t know, my thesis) was due and I couldn’t find any creative energy to get it done. In those times, I turned to writing constraints to get the things I needed to say out on the page.
But, I would be doing my community a disservice if I didn’t acknowledge that not everyone works like me or has the luxuries I do as a creative/writer. Even if we don’t have someone else giving us a deadline, sometimes self-imposed deadlines can be just as serious. For instance, I recently started a 100-day writing journey through TheWritePractice.com and the deadlines were haunting and burdening me so much that, on deadline day, I’d be in an almost catatonic state. Sometimes, the idea of just getting one word out when you’re uninspired sounds so soul-crushing we can talk ourselves into the idea that maybe we aren’t writers after all.
That’s complete hogwash, by the way. Just because you don’t produce words in a way others do doesn’t make you any less of a creative soul or, in this case, a writer. So, I’ve compiled a list of resources, activities, and ideas that might help you to take the pressure off and be able to put a single word down on the page, and then another, and then, maybe, another.
I love this one. It’s the form I operate best in. From experimental/phonetic translation to N+7 to erasure, or cento, or even haiku I find writing constraints to be, contrary to its name, the most freeing way to get my ideas across. I also found this great Mental Floss article that highlights some really cool ways to push yourself as an artist. My personal go-tos at the moment are erasures (part of my thesis is erasures of #45’s tweets that turn into confessional poetry) and phonetic translation (I did a piece centered on German fairy tales phonetically translated into poems and essays). Once, I even transposed villanelle (poetry) constraints onto personal essay form.
There was a time when, working an incredibly monotonous job, that I’d suddenly be struck with so many writing ideas that I couldn’t keep them all straight in my mind, or write them all down, in time before they flittered off again. It’s incredibly frustrating when an idea comes, your heart flutters, your stomach does back flips because it’s so exciting to you… And then, by the time you get home, it’s gone and you can’t bring it back no matter how hard you try. Too, one thing I’ve found true for me is to talk around a thing long enough to finally get at it. Audio transcription has been a fantastic way for me to get the ideas down quickly before they wander off and find someone else or when I need to chew on things in a less linear fashion than pen and paper. Descript.com has a really wonderful article about all the ways to use audio transcription in a way that’s best for you.
Silence and Expansion
I will always, always come back to the idea that when you’re quiet and open, inspiration will find you. It’s pretty much guaranteed. When your mind is quieted, and connected to the moment, it can pick up on things tapping your shoulder and asking to be said through you. Try thumbing through Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic or Jen Sincero’s You Are a Badass to really get inspired to be quiet and let the good come as it may. And don’t forget: your local library most likely has these in all formats: physical, audio, and electronic.