That occasional affliction that all writer’s suffer is today’s blog topic. No I’m not talking about insomnia or caffeine addiction (I have those too). The issue is “Writer’s Block”. It can happen to the best of us. Seasoned writers suffer occasional writer’s block as well as intermediates, students, and of course novice writers. Novelists, poets, journalists, song writer’s, essayists, commentators; we have all known those moments when words fail us. Even when we are knowledgeable and well informed writer’s block can hit making it impossible to put the right words into a sentence.
What’s a writer to do?
There are a few tricks I’ve learned, from others or on my own, over the years that I have come to rely on. Depending on the situation these are helpful.
- Walk away. Just a walk to the kitchen for a snack or coffee can help. Sometimes a stroll down the block is good to clear your head and allow thoughts to come more freely.
- Work on something else for a while. I’ve never met a writer who didn’t have at least three ideas or projects on the go. Whatever interesting piece is sitting patiently on the back burner; bring it out and give it a read through. This can reignite your passion and creativity because it is something else you care about.
- Set it aside and start something new. Even if it is just a letter you’ve been meaning to write or a review of someone else’s work; this can help to keep the creative juices flowing. I myself sometimes write letters to other writer’s who have inspired me or love letters. I might never send the letters but I find it is a good way to channel my energies in a positive direction.
- Call it a day and then make a conscience date with yourself for tomorrow. By telling yourself you will be at your desk at a certain designated time tomorrow you are subconsciously inviting your muse to attend.
I have found that even if I have success with one method in one instance it may not work for me at another time. It is good to have a few tools in your writer’s tool box to get you over these bumps in the road.
My favourite writing tip comes from one of my favourite writer’s Ernest Hemingway who wrote this on writing:
“The best way is always to stop when you are going good and when you know what will happen next. If you do that every day … you will never be stuck. Always stop while you are going good and don’t think about it or worry about it until you start to write the next day. That way your subconscious will work on it all the time.”
May you always write on. (pardon the pun)
It is 3 AM.
It is 3 AM and I am quite awake,
quite at a loss.
The only way to search the Universe at 3 AM
is to hope I’ve got a good light
And an HB #2,
knowing full well,
knowing without question
that whatever I compose from dark restless weary 3AM inspiration
will be harshly edited by my own hand.
Harshly edited by my own hand and the crumbling pink eraser.
3 AM carries poorly chosen adjectives;
poorly chosen words and a loss to describe the night sky
as anything but black.
I can write in a space for the sandman.
Invite him in with my HB #2
and hope he does not choose to linger in a darkened doorway
a step beyond the reach of my little handheld light.
Make tea in the dark.
Encourage the sandman to stay,
to kiss my eyelids, to lay me down
and for my HB #2 to slip to the floor
and roll beneath the bed.
HB#2 to be found hours later with the fading handheld light.
Light beam fading beneath the bed
and I at a loss to describe that space
as anything but black.