I love writing for a living. It’s not always the easiest job, but for me, it is the most satisfying. Even on those days when the words fail to come, I know it’s just a temporary lull in my creativity. There are days though when you may start to wonder whether a stick of dynamite might be the only thing that will explode your brain into operating again. I know from experience that there are a number of things that can stop productivity – too much stress, too much alcohol, not enough sleep, and, perhaps surprisingly, a lack of deadlines nipping at the heels.
There have been times when I have pinned myself to the chair, gazed in desperation at my blank screen, rubbed my head furiously, and even growled at myself a few times, all to no avail. Eventually, I have moved away from my desk, resorting to a last method, relinquishing the hoover from its cupboard prison, preferring the mundane action of cleaning, to the desperation of trying to write.
So sitting down waiting for the words to come, is not really the answer. It’s not writers block per se, it’s as if the brain is taking time off, but often when you need your creativity the most. Like today, I knew today was going to be tough. I woke up with a headache, I didn’t feel energetic or creative but I had so much work to get on with it, I wasn’t even sure where to start. I hate days like this when even the slightest task is like climbing a mountain. Annoyingly, I even turned down the chance for a day out in the French countryside because I needed to get my head down and to get on with it. In reality, the day out would have probably done the trick, but I knew that I couldn’t spare the time.
My tricks of the trade to overcome that fuzzy, foggy headed feeling include this selection of writing tips:
- Switch projects, choose a different writing task and this will free those words.
- Write a to-do list. Works well if you are overwhelmed with the workload.
- Edit. If you are writing a book this is easy. Spend time editing a previous chapter and this will have you buzzing with ideas in no time.
- Drink water. You might be dehydrated and fuzzy minded as a result. Have a bottle of water next to you on your desk.
- Get outside. Just a change of scenery can click your brain into gear, breathe in some fresh air and let the oxygen revitalise your brain.
- Exercise. When I can’t think, I go out onto my terrace and practise my yoga and switch off the creative process, when finished, I feel better, more in control.
- Pick up the hoover, nothing will make you want to write more than having to do a bout of cleaning.
- Read. Flick through a magazine, look at the reader’s letters, imagine writing a reply or actually do so if it gets those words onto paper.
- Write down all the reasons why you love to write. By the end of your list, you will at least have remembered your attachment to the written word and feel more motivated.
- Watch the news. Write a torrent of words that describe how you feel about the latest atrocity.
- Visualise. Think about your story, your article or your book, try to bring it all to life, but don’t think about writing.
You will find that once you have stopped the, ‘ I can’t think’ thought process, the words will come. Sometimes, the brain just needs oiling so that you can get those words out. Your brain might say go away, but you need to try to trick it to make it perform.
You may have many more tricks to overcome those stagnant writing moments, feel free to share them in the comments section.