Wednesday, 12 February 2014

How To Cure Writer's Block

How To Cure Writer's Block
Let's Kick The Curse!

Every once in a while I get into a bit of a 'brain funk' when I start to feel unmotivated, uninteresting and unoriginal. It's as if every ounce of creativity in my entire being disintegrates, leaving me empty, hollow and staring blankly at the computer screen waiting for a spark of genius to hit me.

Now there are a few reasons this occurs:
1. I'm lazy and thus I am always finding myself in a rut needing motivation to get the gears in motion. 
2. I have this terrible problem where I start things but never finish them, and maybe this is me repelling every ounce of productivity because I am starting to commit to an idea.
But the most accurate:
3. I'm human

Everyone get's writer's block at one point or another, it is an inevitable and inescapable fate. But what separates you from being a good writer to just being an average one, is how you go about dealing with it. To quote Penelope, "It's not the power of the curse, it's the power you give the curse".

So let's evaluate your options:
You can choose to ignore it; pretending that such a thing does not exist and thus suffer silently through it.
You can give up altogether.
You can grow some balls and confront the problem head on. Once you embrace being human, then you can find a way to make the best of the situation or "make lemonade" if you will.

But I say screw lemonade...let's just head straight for the shot of tequila. There is no room for pansies here.

So lets take writer's block as a challenge and kick it right in the proverbial balls.

Without further ado, here are some things you can do to kick the curse:

A Change Of Scenery

Sometimes being stuck in the same room day after day puts a strain on your creativity, and all it takes is a change of location to shake things up a bit and get the creative juices flowing. So I encourage you to get out of your usual routine and refresh yourself with new surroundings. All you need is yourself, a sense of adventure and a good ole fashioned pen and paper.

1. Go to the park, sit on a bench and embrace nature.

  • Write what you feel.
  • Write what you see.
Not only will this reawaken your creativity but it will also add life and substance into your writing.

-If you happen to live in Scotland or another place with less desirable weather conditions and sitting outside isn't such a good idea-

2. Go to a coffee shop, order a steaming cup of brew and people watch.

  • Choose a seat next to a window or on a comfy couch. 
    • Avoid any tables that are situated in a corner or away from people. 
      • First of all, you don't want to seem creepy 
      • And secondly, you are trying to get out of your funk not remain in it for eternity 
  • Now people watch. 
    • **Just remember to be stealthy or else you will look indefinitely creepy and may warrant a restraining order if you cross any boundaries**
    • As you are people watching, make up stories about their lives and use bits and pieces of their conversation as a starting point. 
    • Be observant and catch all the tiny subtleties: 
      • Details in clothing, facial expressions, posture, tone of voice, etc.
  • You can also pretend you are a private investigator and give yourself a backstory and identity. Have fun with it!
It doesn't matter where you go just make sure that you get out of your usual routine!

Clear Your Mind

For some people meditation is the best way of clearing the mind. I however, have a problem with focusing and staying still, and thus meditation isn't a good solution for me.

I also let stress build up over time instead of dealing with it right away. When this happens, I start to devalue myself and my surroundings and this reflects, not only in my state of being, but in my bedroom. What I find clears my mind, is literally clearing up the clutter. The saying, "Tidy Room, Tidy Mind" is all too true in my case.

This is my 3 step solution to clearing the mind:

1. Start by removing all distractions.

  • Take away the clutter
  • Put your clothes away
  • Throw away the rubbish

2. Light some scented candles

  • I use cranberry because it has a calming and nostalgic effect on me but vanilla and lavender are good substitutes.
  • Try not to use anything too strong, you don't need a headache.

3. Put on some relaxing tunes

  • For me, a little Frank Sinatra or Otis Redding works wonders
  • Avoid anything that "drops the bass" this is not the time, nor the place
Now you should be instantly calm and ready to focus. If not, you are doing it wrong...maybe you should stop listening to shite music...just a suggestion.

Set Yourself Deadlines

Okay, I am literally the worst person to suggest this because I never follow any of the deadlines that I give myself. In fact, I usually use them as an excuse to get out of doing any work. But if you are more structured and progress well under discipline then this might work for you.

Reward Yourself For Progress

We all have childish tendencies and sometimes we need to reach out to that inner child in all of us that craves recognition and rewards for our accomplishments...and I am not talking about Nobel Peace Prize worthy achievements, I mean the simple act of writing one paragraph or page of work.

Acknowledge the fact that you were able to focus on something and actually be productive for once. You deserve a cookie!

For example: Every time you get a page written, you can watch an episode of Suits (or whatever other show you are interested in)

Just make sure you limit the amount of time you have your rewards because it is easy to get caught up and sucked into the internet trap ("oh just one more episode won't hurt'...*3 hours later*..."just one more"...and so on).

It's all good to coddle yourself once in a while but be careful because you can easily take advantage of yourself and get nothing done. I speak from experience.

Dance Break

I find that these are one of the most overlooked and underrated solutions to life's problems. In fact, I would go as far as saying that they are essential to keeping your sanity intact. You would be surprised how much stress you can shake off after a 3-5 minute dance break! 

Step 1: Set an alarm every 30 minutes or every hour
Step 2: Drop your pen and stop writing
Step 3: Get off your arse
Step 4: Put on some funky tunes
Step 5: Bust a move

**Keep in mind your surroundings**
For example, if you are in a library or coffee shop (or any other public place for that matter), I would rethink this step. As much as I am all for PDD (Public Displays of Dancing), not everyone is so forgiving and it might get you kicked out of the establishment, which wouldn't be very good. On the contrary, however, it would be a funny story. So if you do decide to PDD, then write about your experience! If not, maybe just stick in your earphones and limit it to a conservative tapping of the foot, shimmying in the seat or a simple nod of the head.

The best thing about Dance Breaks, especially if you are in the privacy of your own room, is that you don't have to care about what people think. You can be the next Chris Brown or Beyonce and have dancing down to an art. Or you can move like Mick Jagger on acid...or Mick Jagger period, mind you. The point is, you can release all your inhibitions and stress through pelvic thrusts, funky chickens and running man grooves, and no one can judge you!

Need some dance tips? Carlton can show you a few things, and so can Will. Go Wild!

Sleep On It

Sometimes the solution is as simple as catching a few z's. Allow your brain the chance to relax and rejuvenate, and maybe you will wake up bursting with new ideas!

Word Vomit

Sometimes there is so much going on in your mind that you can't begin to make sense of things. In these cases, do what I call Word Spew -or- Word Vomit.

1. Sit down and write whatever comes to mind, even if it doesn't make sense.

  • Write about what you did today, what you ate, etc...
  • I find that the hardest part is the first draft. After you get everything out of your jumbled mind, then you can start polishing the edges and make sense of the chaos.
2. Forget about your grammar, punctuation or sentence structure; just write.

  • Don't be afraid to make mistakes. In fact, allow yourself to make mistakes. Stop trying to be a perfectionist.

Do A Couple Of Writing Prompts

If your mind is completely blank and none of the solutions above have helped you, consider trying a couple of writing prompts to get yourself back into the swing of things. For example: One of my mates from school, Evan Bawtinheimer, had a brilliant idea of putting a new question each day onto his Facebook page as a means of stimulating conversation and discussion. Sometimes all it takes to find inspiration is putting pen to paper. You never know what magic will ensue! :)

Here are some great writing prompts to get you started.

And last but not least...

Have A Night Out

Now I am in no way promoting alcohol consumption as the be all and end all solution to life's problems. We all know that is not true. In fact, you don't need to be drunk to have a good time. Sometimes it is hilarious being the sober one and watching all your drunk friends make arseholes out of themselves. Every time I go out (whether I drink or not) I always, without a doubt, have a story to tell the next day.

On the contrary, however, I will say what it may, sometimes my best ideas come at the bottom of a pint glass. Some of the world's greatest writers can agree with that:

Tennessee Williams
Dorothy Parker
Edgar Allan Poe
Jack Kerouac
-and most notably-
Ernest Hemingway

They, however, were alcoholics and none of them had good fates....I wouldn't follow in their footsteps if I were you.

So while a couple of pints won't do you any harm, don't make this a ritual and try not to overdo it because those very same ideas may not seem so great the next morning as you are dry heaving overtop of a toilet bowl. Again...I speak from experience.

And if all else fails, just remember to limit the amount of time you feel sorry for yourself because sometimes the best way to get out of your funk is to pull yourself out of it.

Good Luck Kicking The Curse! 

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