I’ve been enjoying a creative flow recently. It’s been wonderful to sit down at my computer and have scenes and conversations come out of my fingertips effortlessly. I’ve had a long, dry season of over a year for me where I found it hard to be inspired. Everything I wrote felt flat and forced. I had bursts of happy, busy moments but nothing as sustained as the latest jag I’ve experienced. It did get me thinking though: how did I get over my writer’s block? Is there anything I could’ve done to snap out of it quicker? What takeaway points do I have from this experience? Is there anything I could do to promote longevity as a writer?
Here’s the number one discovery I stumbled upon about the writing process and my own struggle with writer’s block:
Writers need refreshment
And we need it from positive sources! Unfortunately, there’s a persistent stereotype out there of the suffering artist who can only create in the midst of angst. I don’t believe that is true. Instead, writers (like all artists) need to be restored into wholeness. We need inspiration from positive sources. We need to be constantly filled with good stuff, so that we can pour out good stuff. Being filled with suffering and angst–and wallowing in it–is not going to bring about art that will encourage others. And that’s what I want to do. I want whatever I write to be enjoyable, uplifting, encouraging. Sure, I want to make people think, I want to write about deep themes, but most of all, I want people to walk away from whatever I’ve written and believe themselves to be better for reading it.
How do we get refreshed?
First of all, get outside!
Go for a walk, go to the beach or forest. Look at the stars, roll in autumn leaves or revel in spring flowers (depending what hemisphere you’re in!) There’s something about getting out in the middle of creation that soothes our soul and takes us higher. I’ve rarely come away from some time outside and not felt richer from the experience
Another strategy I discovered was to immerse myself in great literature.
Not just the classics, mind you, but some of the popular and well-written novels of today that are in my genre. I even read some that were completely opposite from what I write! I rolled sentences around in my head, admired a perfect description, laughed over witty conversations (was possibly green with author-envy of some particular jewels!), and came out of the many books I read as a more confident writer. To be a great writer, we’ve got to be great readers! So head to your local library, stock up your Kindle, buy out a bookstore. Well, maybe not that last one 😉 I also watched a few TV shows and movies that really helped me see story structure, and how to leave an audience begging for more. I may or may not have binge-watched certain shows because I could not stop wanting to know what happened next! Now, that’s great writing!
Finally, we can turn to our writing community.
I’ve found such support and encouragement from fellow writers, especially the women I blog with (here’s a big shout-out to Robin, Deanna, and Lucy–you gals ROCK!) Critique groups are great to keep you motivated as well. And I seriously can’t wait to go to my first writers’ conference in August. Something about being around the people who ‘get you’ makes us feel good, doesn’t it? We realise we’re not alone, there are other crazies who stay up way past midnight because they’ve got to get this piece of dialogue just right or have to rewrite this scene because there’s too much ‘tell’ and not enough ‘show.’ If you’re not part of a group or guild, I’d encourage you to get involved. Even one person who writes and can be there to support you will make a huge difference!
So that’s me. I’ve put down 25,000 words in 2 1/2 weeks which is a personal best, and I credit much of this to the advice I’ve put down. It’s been a hard slog to get to this point, but I’m thankful for the lessons I’ve learned.
What about you? What do you do when you hit the writing wall? And what are your hints for longevity?