As I look outside the window and see fifty shades of grey, not forgetting the lonely leafless birch which reflects the current mood of countless people in the prevailing pandemic situation, my procrastination with my writing expands and even the sky’s not the limit. My saviour has been escapism in the form of Netflix without chilling. I’ve also found myself singing “Wake me up when September ends” in the shower with a creative artistic addition “in 2023”, in a high opera-like note, of course.
Not only is writer’s block overwhelming, but also excruciatingly agonising. It’s a monster under your bed, and feeling its presence is unavoidable. Instead of battling it, befriend it. Here are five useful tips that have helped me with my writing, no matter the genre:
1. In order to succeed with writing, one must write (and drink lots of coffee). Julia Cameron has created an amazingly effective tool for capturing creativity, the Morning Pages. It is the first thing to do after waking up. Basically, it consists of writing three pages of anything that crosses your mind. The point of this stream of consciousness is to beat your inner critic and nourish your inner creativity. When becoming a daily routine, it also helps you process your thoughts and get your day started. One of the main points is that the language doesn’t have to be perfect, and you’re not supposed to read the texts afterwards. I suggest you give it a try. You’ll be positively surprised.
2. Another great tool for tapping into creativity is the Artist’s Date, again invented by our genius Julia Cameron. This tool requires nothing more than you and your time. The point is to get your imagination going by taking yourself out on a date once a week, alone. I sent Cameron a message on Instagram asking them if dogs are allowed. I never received a reply. However, the Artist’s Date requires no mastermind even though it might be a bit of a challenge during the Covid situation. But fear not! For instance, something as simple as a walk in an urban environment counts. Yesterday, I put my mask and rubber gloves on, and headed to the corner shop to buy some oatmilk (warning: don’t try this at home).
3. If the idea of writing three pages first thing in the morning sounds challenging, try writing a journal, a letter, a postcard, you name it. You’ll get your writing going simply by writing, and as mentioned before, the genre doesn’t matter. As you process the words, you’ll get your creativity going. As Margaret Atwood put it, a word after a word after a word is power.
4. Music. Since music improves cognition, it makes sense that it stimulates creative thinking. Put on your headphones, pick the songs you find the most inspiring, listen to the melody and, especially, the lyrics. Sometimes it only takes one word to get things going.
5. Don’t be afraid of the blank page. More importantly, ask yourself: what is the worst thing that could happen? Sometimes life doesn’t go as planned. The same applies to writing. Don’t be afraid of change, embrace it.
I hope that you, dear writer in the role of a reader, find these tips as useful as I have. Remember that you are not alone. Now, let’s get that writing going. Stay safe!