Sometimes it finds you when you look at the blank page. Other times when you have written half of your novel. Perhaps a few chapters before the end. You sit in front of your laptop, you place your fingers on the keyboard and after a few seconds, you find yourself scrolling down your Facebook news feed. Or, you grab a pen, write a few words on your notebook, then leave the pen because you decide to make a banoffee pie recipe instead. Your story either remains unborn inside your brain or unfinished on your hard drive. So, how do we overcome a creative block?
1. You need to understand why the story is important to you.
Do you want to inspire people? Do you want to give them a lesson? To communicate with them? Is it because you feel it’s important? Is it only because you want to take it out of your body? No matter what the reason is, write it down. You don’t have to share this. Write it there just for yourself. It might be a few sentences or just words or it can be a full page. Why is this beneficial? Well, first of all, you will manage to write something. Then it will give you a hint of how to structure your story if you are at the early writing stage. If you are nearly at the end it will probably give you a guide on how to end your story. It takes me more or less five years to write a novel. When I start I am a different person and have different things to say. After five years, I might end up towards a different direction from the story I am writing. This is also another reason to check why the story is still important to you.
2. Make a storyline.
It doesn’t need to be complete and you don’t have to do it at the beginning of your writing. If you do it before you start writing it will probably help you understand your character’s journey. It will also give you a guide on how to write chapters or scenes. If you have already started the story then it will help you identify the gaps in the plot. How to do it? You need to find your own way. I use two different methods. I draw a storyline and mark every important stop in my character’s journey. The other thing I do is to write down basic elements of every chapter and scene. When I read my notes they look like a summary of the whole story and then it’s easier to identify what is missing. A simple example is this: Let’s assume I write about a character’s daily life. He wakes up, goes to work, eats lunch, goes back home, watches tv and then sleeps. This is his storyline but I don’t see any human interaction. This is because this element is missing from my story. So, I will probably need to write a chapter a bit after the TV and before the sleep when the character meets a friend or a partner.
the antidote to the writing block is writing
3.Have a break.
Do something fun and try to find activities that bombard you with stimulus. Watch a film, observe how the characters develop and how the story unfolds. Read a book or visit an interesting gallery. If you are at a stage where anything related to art gets you shivers up your spine, then just do something that makes you happy or just spend some time sleeping. We need to rest our brains.
Yeah, the antidote to the writing block is writing! You don’t have to write a novel or an extraordinary story. Write something short and simple. A dream you had last night or a page in your diary. If you don’t know how to start, google some creative writing exercises and spend some time with them. Your focus should just be on the writing process. Don’t stress yourself with the creative outcome. Just write! If you want to go a step further you can write a letter to your creative self and praise him or her for their creativity. If during this exercise you realise you are more focus on the negatives than on the positives it’s fine. Have a look at the negative things you pointed out, they might help you do understand how you block yourself from writing.
5. This is the last one. So, well done for reading the whole article! If you get stuck, you feel like you won’t write a single word or produce anything creative, sign up for workshops. Apart from meeting likeminded people, you will improve your creative skills. If you feel this choice will make you more stressed, why not try a meditation workshop, a life coaching session or even book yourself for a massage? Taking care of yourself will nurture your creative part.
Iluustration: Julia Nowak