If you write – or indeed do anything creative – for a living, then there are bound to be times when you have to create but you’re not really in the mood. Creativity can’t really be switched on and off like a tap, so what do you do when creator’s block strikes?
How to Defeat Writer’s Block
When you start stressing about how stuck you are, the feeling only builds. The first thing you can try is changing up the medium you use to create.
Instead of typing into a computer, try pen and paper. Or if you have an old typewriter in the shed, why not dust it off?
Alternatively, try working from a place that you don’t usually work. Whether that’s a café, the park, a library, or just a different room. Sometimes that can shake some creativity loose.
One thing that does wonders for my creativity is planning my work beforehand in a different sitting. Getting headings in order, deciding on “take home” messages – things like that. Then I’m not sitting down to a blank page and a head full of dread.
Got Time? Good.
If you don’t have a looming deadline, then go for a walk, do some yoga, or go to the gym. The fresh air and a bracing exercise can leave you energised, ready to put that energy into your words.
If you don’t feel like doing that either, then watch a documentary or listen to an interesting podcast – experiment with things that are totally off-topic, or things that are just vaguely adjacent. That can shake some creativity loose too.
In the absence of looming time limits – it can also be worth working on a separate project for a short while. It’s like when you can’t think of a word in general conversation. Try as you might, it hardly ever comes to you when you need it. If it does ever come to you, it’s always later, when your brain has had time to rest and think about other things for a bit. This can also be the case with creativity too.
It also pays to know how your energy levels rise and fall throughout the day or week. Schedule your most creative tasks for those times.
More Experimental Ideas
Alternatively, some folks recommend “free-writing”, just writing whatever comes to mind no matter how mundane or off-topic, so you can get those writerly juices flowing.
There’s a lot to be said for routines, so try and keep to one if your world allows.
One of my personal favourites, especially when you have to explain a complex concept or process, is to explain it to a complete novice. In clarifying their new knowledge, they sometimes ask questions or look at a problem in a way that you would have never imagined.
Remember that if you do suffer a spot of writer’s block, you don’t have to let it win.