The cursor blinks, and you look away from your screen. Your usual companion in expression, Microsoft Word, seems, at the moment, to be your most ardent enemy. Glancing back at the empty white space, the cursor still blinks incessantly, mocking you. With each blink, your animosity increases. Why are you such a douche, MS Word?
You close your eyes, rub your temples and get lost in thought.
Why can’t I think of anything new? What do I write about? Maybe I can write about the situation in Ukraine. Yes, that’d be great. I can’t believe a whole flight went down because people are too arrogant to let things go. Russia blames the Western media. A lot of people blame Russia. People are weird. Weird. I’m hungry. Maybe I’ll go make a sandwich. No, I have to write. You have a deadline, remember? How do I start? ..
The situation in Russia|.. backspace. No, that sucks. It has to begin creatively. After 2 minutes of spacing out on a nearby glass, you refocus. Still nothing. Aaargh, why is this so difficult?
This is the frustration of a Writer’s block. It will make you doubt yourself within an inch of your sanity. The best part? The more frustrated you get, the more blocked you feel . Here are a few words of wisdom:
If you simply cannot get the words out, don’t force it. Drop it. Oh no, this means I’m giving up and I’ll procrastinate and never write the piece.
The advice is incomplete: Drop it – for the time being. Come back. What’s blocking you is your emotions; frustration, sadness, anger, restlessness – and probably your perfectionism. What you can do, while relaxed, in 30 minutes, takes 3 hours when frustrated. Ignore the looming shadow haunting you with “It needs to be perfect.” All you need to do is put words on paper – and the rest will come. Creativity needs space – it needs brain time, and if you let the editor in your head sit in the same space as the writer, you will over-analyse every word into an abyss.
On the other hand, if you can force creativity and succeed, I’d just like to say: Nice to meet you, Mr. Doyle.
In the meantime, relax and try any of these random ideas to get ‘the juices flowing’ [I hate that phrase]-:
[I’d like to add here – don’t just read these. Get off your bottom and do these things. If reading this makes you feel good, imagine actually doing them. Experiencing something and talking about it are two very different things. Be Walter Mitty after courage, not before. Basically, don’t be lazy. Also note: do not think of the blinking cursor while you’re doing this. Relax.]
1. Visit Spinneys:I know this sounds ridiculous, but grocery shopping can really talk the edge off. Spinneys is a space that always relaxes me, with the smell of freshly baked bread, the color of fresh fruits and vegetables and the chill of the refrigerator section is enough to occupy all your senses.
2. Go to a Stationery store: Go buy a good-looking scrapbook, and scribble in it. Pick out your favorite colored crepe paper, sniff a bit of paint and go nuts with the play dough. For me, a stationery store is a playground and all the empty canvases tempt me [almost sexually] to fill them with color.
3. Spend some time on a swing:You’re not 6 and it’s boiling outside, I know. But what happened to just swinging to your highest for fun? Revisiting the nearest swing may sound weird, but childhood memories are important motivators. Children are always in the moment, never worrying about the future – that state of mind is ideal for a writer’s block.
4. Really good food:If you’re into cooking, that is. The simple steps of following a recipe and knowing the end result, is meditative. If you’re not, call a friend up and try a cuisine or restaurant you haven’t tried before. Get dressed and go out.
Inspiration doesn’t come from unexpected places, it comes from living life; colorful people, delicious food, moving music and sensational experiences. What are you going to write about if you’re not living? [Browsing the internet does not count. As I said earlier – talking about it and watching it doesn’t come close to the real thing] And when you write something close to your heart, trust me, it will come through to the reader.
Great Scientists, Philosophers, Artists and Doctors – Can you think of a man or woman who lived to be famous, but didn’t have a way with words? Isn’t that curious? Their quotes are plastered on café walls, on pictures of sunny beaches online, used as openings for speeches and most importantly for giving life advice. They lived to experience the many facets of life. They wrote wholeheartedly.
So, drop it – for the time being. Live and come back to write it – Just write.
Don’t write a good piece. Write a piece.