As writers we enjoy the time we are gripped within a story or an idea. Our minds are full of imagery and plot; however, this is not always the case. There are multiple reasons for our creativity to be cast aside or forgotten. We might be suffering an illness, there is an addition of a new baby to the family, we start a new relationship, move to a new home or find another job, a relationship ends, or we enter into divorce proceedings, and there is also financial stress. Whatever the change in our circumstances, it has a detrimental effect on us. These worries about work, family or finances impact our focus, health, well-being and draws us away from our creativity. Even the weather can affect our mood. (As I write we had a spring snowfall in Alberta!)
It is important to deal with these situations and find resolutions for our lives. Constant worrying is a hinderance to our creative spark – once these obstacles are overcome, or managed, can we begin to think about writing again.
These life complications may not be why you are struggling to write, it maybe you are feeling disheartened, which can manifest itself in a variety of forms – lack of impetus, unrealistic comparisons, self-expectations or stumbling over a particular section in a writing project. Some call it writers block.
In truth it is just life.
In order to find that creative spark, you can use one or more of the following:
- First, DO NOT FEEL GUILTY – it is counterproductive and harassing your muse is a form of procrastination.
- START WRITING – use a prompt, do a character study, write out a story idea.
- KEEP WRITING – give yourself a time limit 20 minutes or an hour, or write a page, or 250 words. Choose one and stick to it.
- FINISH A SMALL PROJECT – a short story or a poem.
- Talk to fellow authors.
- Change the location of where you write – it can even be in a different room or somewhere local like your library.
- Take a writing class.
- Do another creative activity.
- MAKE UP BOOK TITLES – based on well-known novels or use a title generator on the internet.
- CREATE A CHARACTER DESCRIPTION – including all their back story.
- Don’t put it off writing for too long.
- Write your name or book title in Chinese calligraphy.
- TAKE YOUR WRITING PRACTICE ON A DATE. Find an inspiring location that reminds you of your story setting.
- JOURNAL EVERY DAY FOR A WEEK. Getting your feelings on paper can help. Just vent!
- Do a timed free writing sprint to a prompt.
- Read a book by a writer whose voice resonates with you.
- Join a writer’s group.
- Honor your writing rest period – we are so task orientation, give yourself permission to rest.
- Approach your writing from a fresh or different angle.
- Talk about your work, project or idea.
- Recommit to a project.
- Read what you have written – refresh your interest in the project. Realize your accomplishment.
- Move your body – walk or exercise.
- UNPLUG AND RELAX your over tired brain.
- Experiment with a new style or genre.
- FIND THE RIGHT SOUND, it can be a favorite type of music, lapping waves, a bubbling brook, or even enjoy complete silence.
- USE RITUALS – light a scented candle, display a photograph or image, write our favourite quotes. Whatever aids your Muse.
- Do one writing task at a time. Multiple directions are counterproductive.
- FOCUS ON THE ENJOYMENT OF TELLING YOUR STORIES. Do it to the best of your ability. This can be to yourself or a supportive ear.
- Remember you are building an inventory of your writing but also learning your craft. It is not an overnight process. Time your time.
- LESSEN YOUR EXPECTATIONS, don’t be so hard on yourself. Yes, we all want a certain quality to our work, but with patience it will come. There is no quick fix.
- Don’t compare another writer’s finished work against your in-process drafts. You have no idea how many changes they made.
- Remember you get to rule over your own creative process. You choose, shape, mold, and create whatever you want.
- Remember your words will, in time, sway minds, move hearts, and touch the lives of dozens of people you will never meet in person.
- Your words, your stories are your legacy.
- DO NOT TAKE REJECTION PERSONALLY. Think of it as a learning tool.
- Take a long-term view of your writing career – no-one is ever an overnight success.
- PARTICIPATE IN SUPPORTIVE WRITER GROUPS. Share your work with encouraging friends.
Read more by Mandy Eve-Barnett