I’ll be honest. I’ve felt completely drained of any words lately. It’s a melodramatic thing to say, I know, but it’s the best way I can describe how I’ve been feeling. I can’t point to any one thing that has drained me of my words. It’s a mix of the shitshow that was 2016, working myself too hard (for those keeping score at home, I have one full time job, four part-time gigs, ballet class, and this blog), personal stuff that led to my anxiety and depression coming on STRONG, and the very natural ebb and flow of creative inspiration. Still, as someone who pays some of her bills with her writing money, feeling tapped of inspiration can feel frightening. So here are some ways that I both fight writer’s block:
This one is the hardest for me to remember when I’m going through a writer’s block. Whenever I feel creatively tapped, regardless of the reason, I always fear that this writer’s block will be THE writer’s block. I’ve used all my words, and my writing days are over. It’s easy to feel panicked when you feel like you’ll never string a solid sentence together again in your natural life. Regardless of where the creative dry spell is coming from, try to keep your wits about you. This won’t last forever, so don’t make things worse by freaking yourself out.
Keep writing, even if you’re phoning it in.
If you’re writing for money or just writing for the joy of it, but especially if writing is paying your bills, don’t let a creative dry spell stop you from writing. You may not produce your finest work during this time, but keep trying to string words together. This is easier if you write for a place that sends you pitches, but even if you don’t and you can’t even strike up an idea to get a pitch approved, still try to write something. Even if it’s nothing more than errant words, stream-of-consciousness thought, journaling about your day, or doing word games to keep working that part of your brain out. It’s a bummer to pitch to your editor and repeatedly get ideas shot down, but try not to let it stop you from writing completely.
Spend time with things that inspire you.
For me, when I’m feeling a persistent bout of writer’s block, my gut instinct is to either feel defeated by it or to spend all of my free time staring at a blank Word doc as I wait for Lady Muse to stop by. I can’t help but feel I shouldn’t spend time watching shows or reading books. It feels like wasted time. However, for me, most of my inspiration to write comes from engaging in content that gets me excited and inspired. For instance, I got the idea to start this blog simply because I wanted to have a place to unabashedly talk about the show Supernatural. So whether it’s a show, movie, book, or something else entirely, spending time engaging in stories that inspire you–time where you’re just there to enjoy it, no strings attached–is a great way to recharge your creativity tanks.
This is important for anyone who has a largely sedentary, solo job to remember. However, it’s extra important when you’re feeling creatively drained. Remember to give yourself good chunks of time to be active. It’s easy to get a bit of tunnel vision when you’re fighting writer’s block, so getting away from your computer, maybe even going outside and moving around for a while can help broaden your scope. I have a lot of walking trails by my house, and I love to walk around the trails for long chunks of time and let myself daydream wildly. Even if I don’t come back with a cure to the block, I feel more creatively recharged.
Writer’s block is a bummer, and when it interferes with how you pay your bills, it can be downright scary. The important thing to remember is that writer’s block and feeling creatively drained are just seasons in your life–you haven’t run out of words, and you are going to be able to write something you’re proud of soon. Just give your brain the space to breathe, do what you need to in order to recharge your creativity, and be sure you’re taking care of yourself.
How do you fight writer’s block and creative dry spells? Tell me your tips in the comments!