As I embark on the journey of self publishing my first book, I have experienced, on numerous occasions, lack of creativity, aka “writer’s block.” It plagues so many of us from time to time, stopping us from taping into our literary genius on a consistent basis. However, there are different practices and techniques that help with writers block. College is where I learned many of the techniques I mention, but more importantly I learned that the key to becoming a successful and dedicated writer is consistency. And as simple as that sounds, it is actually quite a skill.
But what’s the shame in admitting that you are having trouble adding to your essay, or novel, or work because you have reached a stumbling block? Everything you write seems lame or you’re not even writing at all because the ideas just aren’t there. The reality is that it’s completely normal to get writers block! Everyone goes through it and if they say they don’t then they’re lying. Simple as that. Moreover, there are certain things you can do to overcome writers block and get your creative juices flowing again. Here are five:
I. Give yourself reading & writing tasks/assignments
My current manuscript is a collection of poems, however, this applies to any genre and writing process you are going through. I always find it helpful to read other poets and other works of literature when I am stuck on my own work. I read some of my favorite poets/writers and emulate/praise their style allowing me to draw from their creativity. Similarly, one of my first poem assignments in college was to focus on physical description. I chose a spice called Cayenne Pepper and really examined it. I researched the pepper, I looked at the color of it, played in it with my hands, etc. It was a pretty bizarre process but it birthed one of my favorite poems today. Giving yourself a specific task like that allows you to focus in on one thing decreasing the chances of your mind or ideas being all over the place. Other examples are focusing on writing poems that rhyme, haiku’s, couplets, etc.
II. Change your environment often enough to inspire creativity
Many writers (including myself) enjoy writing from the comfort of their own home for many different reasons. However, it is crucial to change up your environment often enough when you run into writers block. When you are outside, you are exposed to so many different people, vibrations, energy, etc., so you will be able to pull creativity from it. One of my favorite spots to go write is Manhattanville Coffee, located in Harlem, NY. I find that their are a lot of other creators that go there and the energy is quite comforting.
III. Revise old work to stimulate new ideas
When you are working on a manuscript, essay or novel, revisions are just as important as adding more content to what you already have. It is important to do some close reading as well as spend time with your work. You may realize that using a different word is better than what you used before or that the third paragraph of your essay will be better as the first paragraph instead. Revising and rereading what you already have is a great way to get more ideas flowing and expand on the work you have already written.
IV. Join or create a group of writers that meet every week, once a month to share and critique work
Now this is a tricky one because everyone does not respond well to group settings. And that is fine. Instead, you can work with a friend or friends whom you trust and feel comfortable sharing your work with. However, when you have a group of people, you can do workshops where you are given feedback on your work.
V. Take breaks from your work
This is a BIG one because some of us are on deadlines and because we want to meet them, the thought of taking a break from writing doesn’t seem efficient. However, it is absolutely important to walk away from your work often enough to refresh your eyes. You’ll be surprised at what you missed in terms of grammar but also in terms of themes and patterns that were unconsciously woven in your work.
KEEP WRITING AND STAY CONSISTENT 🙂
Bonus: For those working on novels, Kristen Martin has a great video on organizing and outlining your novel.