When I first set out on my blogging journey, I sat down and brainstormed some potential blog topics to help me get started. I decided to wait to write the “writer’s block” post because I figured there would come a time when I myself would suffer from this inconvenient malady. I contemplated the idea of saving the topic just a little longer, but frankly I find myself suffering from mental fatigue this week. What better time to write about the topic?
The good news is that there’s a plethora of information on finding inspiration when you hit a wall. Most of the advice falls into one of two categories, which I like to call “somethingness” and “nothingness.” Let me explain.
Somethingness involves evoking creativity by stimulating the senses. Nothingness, is the exact opposite. It involves clearing your mind so you have room for new ideas.
Because everyone finds inspiration in different ways, I’ve outlined some tips for moving past writers block that fall into one of these two categories.
Don’t ask me why, but I have always been one of those people who need a deadline staring them in the face in order to get inspired. I can’t seem to get much writing done unless it’s crunch time. Sound familiar? Don’t worry, we’re not alone. Daphne Gray-Grant from Ragan.com wrote a post titled A speed demon’s guide to more effective writing. Just because it’s quick, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be effective, right?
If the idea of getting dangerously close to a deadline gets your heart pounding, don’t worry. The web has plenty of other great resources for combating writer’s block. Start by looking at your RSS feed to see what other blogs are writing about. Is there something you agree or disagree with? Or maybe there is something you want to add to. Blogging is, after all, about conversations. If you can’t find inspiration in the blogosphere, then check out these great articles:
If you’re choc full of ideas and want to make writing a full-time career, then check out DailyWritingTip’s 7 Steps to Becoming a Freelance Writer.
Can over-stimulation of the senses lead to a creative standstill? I was recently reading Confessions of an Advertising Man by David Ogilvy and found myself wondering this. The book was written in the early 1960’s before the advent of most of the technological distractions that are a part of everyday life for most of us. Ogilvy talks about “keeping open the telephone line to…[his] unconscious,” (pg. 20). He goes on to detail how goes about doing this:
“I take long hot baths. I garden. I go into retreat among the Amish. I watch birds. I go for long walks in the country. And I take frequent vacations, so that my brain can lie fallow…
While thus employed in doing nothing, I receive a constant stream of telegrams from my unconscious and these becomes the raw material from my advertisements,” (pgs. 20-21).
I found this interesting because often times the approach to “hitting the wall” creatively is to look for inspiration via stimulation of the senses. We may go to an art museum, read up on current events or look to the ideas of others in hopes of getting a sudden epiphany.
I wonder though, if this approach is backwards? I often find that ideas come to me when I least expect it; whether I’m driving or lying down to go to sleep for the night. This got me thinking that maybe Ogilvy is on to something. Maybe we need to get away from stimuli in order to manifest our creative genius. After all, how can we expect to draw on the creative part of our minds when so much of our brain power is being devoted to other things?
Think that this approach might be right for you? Try meditation to clear your mind and come back to your work refreshed.
Fight Writer’s Block Before it Even Begins
If you come up with ideas when you least expect to, then check out the concept of Creative Composting mentioned in JustifiedDesign. Composting is a simple concept that involves little more than keeping a notebook for your ideas or bookmarking interesting articles; however, it’s a creative way of thinking about how you gather ideas.
Not only does this give you some ideas to draw on when the creativity isn’t flowing, but it also gives you time to more fully develop them. What better way to combat writer’s block than to be proactive and prevent it in the first place?
Personally I use a little bit of all of these concepts. What are your experiences with working through writer’s block? Do you find stimulating your brain or letting it rest more effective?