Get Unblocked.

In an earlier post, my friend Rhett asked, “I often sit down to write, and I get this feeling like there’s nothing much to say. I’m sure everyone gets this, even if I am a more chronic case. Do you? If so, how do you work with that?”

This seems to be one of the many faces of “writer’s block” which, if you’ve ever spoken to someone who writes or read about writing, you’ve probably heard a lot about.

The most common form of writer’s block that I’ve experienced is ultimately based in fear and concern about what others will think. Fear that you’re not good enough, or that nothing you could possibly say is important or will be published, etc. etc.   You are comparing your (as yet nonexistent) work to everything else you’ve read and feel that you’re coming up short.

This is usually the fault of an overly aggressive internal editor (mine’s named Steve) and cripples any bit of creative impulse you had going.   People suffering under this type of writer’s block are worried about the end result of their project before anything is even set down on the page. If, when you sit down to write, you are thinking that it has to be the best, or a completely original concept, or something that will launch you into instant fame…you’ve got a guaranteed way to ensure you continue writing nothing for a good long while.

A related problem is feeling like you have to have something specific to say every time you write.  Again, you’re worried about the ending before you have a beginning.   Rhett is right — this does happen to everyone at some point, and it actually happens to me a lot.   The best way I’ve found to combat this is to take a different approach.  This might mean switching the music I’m listening to, going for a walk with the dogs and observing the outdoors closely, re-reading a poem I love, look over a magazine or recent newspaper, or talking to a good friend for a few minutes.

Most often, I just freewrite.  I write whatever pops into my head, no matter how silly or strange or mundane it might be.  Sometimes these sessions start with, “I have no idea what to write.”   That’s ok.  Eventually, something else comes up.   If, out of three pages of freewriting, I have only one line I can actually use…well, that’s one more line than I had when I started.

I asked some of my creative friends on twitter how they overcome a block and got some great answers:

@vixalicious: I do craft projects – it’s creative, but it uses a different part of the brain or something, and it refreshes me.

@jennyscottmusic: I know it’s nothing new, but I just take my guitar & play spur-of-the-moment, or search for a topic I could write about…

@feachador pointed out a great TedTalks video by Elizabeth Gilbert here: http://bit.ly/7awct

@adampknave:  Keep working.

Christine Kane also has a fantastic list of ways to jumpstart creativity on her blog here.

Keep working…this too shall pass.  You just have to get through it and find an approach you may not have tried yet.  I think we’re all inherently creative beings, and that our creativity *wants* to be expressed.  Our job is to find an outlet and keep the lines open.




  • http://adampknave.com Adam P Knave

    I don’t get writer’s block. I don’t have the luxary. I know that sounds … something but I am serious. I have deadlines. They cure writer’s block DAMN FAST.

  • http://feachador.blogspot.com Feachador

    The only other thing that I would add (but couldn’t on twitter – darn you 140 character limit!) is a change of scenery almost always helps me. When I’m writing something in the same place at the same time every day, I usually get stuck in a rut and think about the same things. Getting out of the house for a walk does wonders for my thinking process. A walk around the city is oftentimes full of inspiration for me; you just see it, instead of shutting yourself off like we tend to do.

    Oh, and don’t pressure yourself! Thinking “ohgodohgod, I have to put something down on this paper or I’m a failure for the day” is only gonna drive you deeper in a hole. Just write, and let what’s there just be what it is. :)

  • Alisha

    I struggle with writer’s block CONSTANTLY. And it’s true, the fear aspect kills it for me. I feel like no one will enjoy my writings or that, worse, they will hate them.

    I very much have to create a positive and supportive space in order for the words to reach the paper.

  • http://www.weatherlight.com Rhett

    (Juliana, thanks for taking the time to write this. It’s really great that you devoted this effort to my question.

    Adam,

    So, I think this brings up an interesting point…possibly even a chat I need to have with my own internal editor. A deadline is a super simple motivator for me to produce, but only with certain media. I can write opinion pieces almost on the spot, for example. I can pull a hastily conceived 20-minute video through the writing, shooting, and post, and I can have it ready to go the next day. If you dropped sacks of raw ingredients in my kitchen and told me to start cooking a banquet meal, I could drop everything and do it.

    It’s specifically creative writing, poetry, and especially songwriting that get me. The media I’m facile with…there’s just some inner logic to them that I “get”. When it comes to music or poetry, just suddenly feel absent of an idea. I think Juliana touches on it a little, though…when I make a video, I have an attitude where I don’t care if I’m using dumb tropes. When I try to write a song, though, I expect better of myself.

    The other thing is that I’m very much a collaborator. I love when others come to me with an idea for a video and I take the idea and run with it. I love having a hazy form of an idea and sharing it with a collaborator and hearing their response.

    But, when I want to write, I don’t make use of it and I sit alone and think.

    I can’t wait to try out some of the things written in here.

  • http://adampknave.com Adam P Knave

    Rhett,

    Yeah for me it is just a matter of getting the work done. Fiction, comics, columns … just have to sit down and do it. No excuses, no reasons. I was telling J, that my personal credo is “Sit the fuck down, get the fuck back to work.” Which tends to keep me honest and does wonders for me. It doesn’t allow for reasons. And for ME, being that harsh isn’t a bad thing.

  • http://www.sacredcirclecreativelife.com Lisa

    When I get stuck, what helps is allowing myself to sit in my big cozy leopard chair and daydreaming/visioning with a cup of chai in hand… usually after 20 minutes or so, I’m ready to try again… may sound kinda ooey-ooey, but if I get too harsh with myself, I shut down and want to eat chocolate and watch soap operas!

  • http://www.julianafinch.com jules

    Rhett,

    You mention that you’re a collaborator — maybe if that’s how you work best, you shouldn’t feel like you *must* create things on your own… at least not at this point. If you’re happiest in a room of dedicated folks working on an exciting new venture, jump in and do that. I think the more you feed the conditions that make you feel most creative and productive, the more you’ll find that creativity moving into other areas (and perhaps solo projects.)

    Maybe get a casual songwriting or poetry writing group together where everyone has to write on a prompt (and on a deadline) but it absolutely doesn’t need to be good. At all. I bet you’ll surprise yourself.

    Much Love,

    J.

Get Unblocked.

In an earlier post, my friend Rhett asked, “I often sit down to write, and I get this feeling like there’s nothing much to say. I’m sure everyone gets this, even if I am a more chronic case. Do you? If so, how do you work with that?”

This seems to be one of the many faces of “writer’s block” which, if you’ve ever spoken to someone who writes or read about writing, you’ve probably heard a lot about.

The most common form of writer’s block that I’ve experienced is ultimately based in fear and concern about what others will think. Fear that you’re not good enough, or that nothing you could possibly say is important or will be published, etc. etc.   You are comparing your (as yet nonexistent) work to everything else you’ve read and feel that you’re coming up short.

This is usually the fault of an overly aggressive internal editor (mine’s named Steve) and cripples any bit of creative impulse you had going.   People suffering under this type of writer’s block are worried about the end result of their project before anything is even set down on the page. If, when you sit down to write, you are thinking that it has to be the best, or a completely original concept, or something that will launch you into instant fame…you’ve got a guaranteed way to ensure you continue writing nothing for a good long while.

A related problem is feeling like you have to have something specific to say every time you write.  Again, you’re worried about the ending before you have a beginning.   Rhett is right — this does happen to everyone at some point, and it actually happens to me a lot.   The best way I’ve found to combat this is to take a different approach.  This might mean switching the music I’m listening to, going for a walk with the dogs and observing the outdoors closely, re-reading a poem I love, look over a magazine or recent newspaper, or talking to a good friend for a few minutes.

Most often, I just freewrite.  I write whatever pops into my head, no matter how silly or strange or mundane it might be.  Sometimes these sessions start with, “I have no idea what to write.”   That’s ok.  Eventually, something else comes up.   If, out of three pages of freewriting, I have only one line I can actually use…well, that’s one more line than I had when I started.

I asked some of my creative friends on twitter how they overcome a block and got some great answers:

@vixalicious: I do craft projects – it’s creative, but it uses a different part of the brain or something, and it refreshes me.

@jennyscottmusic: I know it’s nothing new, but I just take my guitar & play spur-of-the-moment, or search for a topic I could write about…

@feachador pointed out a great TedTalks video by Elizabeth Gilbert here: http://bit.ly/7awct

@adampknave:  Keep working.

Christine Kane also has a fantastic list of ways to jumpstart creativity on her blog here.

Keep working…this too shall pass.  You just have to get through it and find an approach you may not have tried yet.  I think we’re all inherently creative beings, and that our creativity *wants* to be expressed.  Our job is to find an outlet and keep the lines open.




Get Unblocked.

In an earlier post, my friend Rhett asked, “I often sit down to write, and I get this feeling like there’s nothing much to say. I’m sure everyone gets this, even if I am a more chronic case. Do you? If so, how do you work with that?”

This seems to be one of the many faces of “writer’s block” which, if you’ve ever spoken to someone who writes or read about writing, you’ve probably heard a lot about.

The most common form of writer’s block that I’ve experienced is ultimately based in fear and concern about what others will think. Fear that you’re not good enough, or that nothing you could possibly say is important or will be published, etc. etc.   You are comparing your (as yet nonexistent) work to everything else you’ve read and feel that you’re coming up short.

This is usually the fault of an overly aggressive internal editor (mine’s named Steve) and cripples any bit of creative impulse you had going.   People suffering under this type of writer’s block are worried about the end result of their project before anything is even set down on the page. If, when you sit down to write, you are thinking that it has to be the best, or a completely original concept, or something that will launch you into instant fame…you’ve got a guaranteed way to ensure you continue writing nothing for a good long while.

A related problem is feeling like you have to have something specific to say every time you write.  Again, you’re worried about the ending before you have a beginning.   Rhett is right — this does happen to everyone at some point, and it actually happens to me a lot.   The best way I’ve found to combat this is to take a different approach.  This might mean switching the music I’m listening to, going for a walk with the dogs and observing the outdoors closely, re-reading a poem I love, look over a magazine or recent newspaper, or talking to a good friend for a few minutes.

Most often, I just freewrite.  I write whatever pops into my head, no matter how silly or strange or mundane it might be.  Sometimes these sessions start with, “I have no idea what to write.”   That’s ok.  Eventually, something else comes up.   If, out of three pages of freewriting, I have only one line I can actually use…well, that’s one more line than I had when I started.

I asked some of my creative friends on twitter how they overcome a block and got some great answers:

@vixalicious: I do craft projects – it’s creative, but it uses a different part of the brain or something, and it refreshes me.

@jennyscottmusic: I know it’s nothing new, but I just take my guitar & play spur-of-the-moment, or search for a topic I could write about…

@feachador pointed out a great TedTalks video by Elizabeth Gilbert here: http://bit.ly/7awct

@adampknave:  Keep working.

Christine Kane also has a fantastic list of ways to jumpstart creativity on her blog here.

Keep working…this too shall pass.  You just have to get through it and find an approach you may not have tried yet.  I think we’re all inherently creative beings, and that our creativity *wants* to be expressed.  Our job is to find an outlet and keep the lines open.




Get Unblocked.

In an earlier post, my friend Rhett asked, “I often sit down to write, and I get this feeling like there’s nothing much to say. I’m sure everyone gets this, even if I am a more chronic case. Do you? If so, how do you work with that?”

This seems to be one of the many faces of “writer’s block” which, if you’ve ever spoken to someone who writes or read about writing, you’ve probably heard a lot about.

The most common form of writer’s block that I’ve experienced is ultimately based in fear and concern about what others will think. Fear that you’re not good enough, or that nothing you could possibly say is important or will be published, etc. etc.   You are comparing your (as yet nonexistent) work to everything else you’ve read and feel that you’re coming up short.

This is usually the fault of an overly aggressive internal editor (mine’s named Steve) and cripples any bit of creative impulse you had going.   People suffering under this type of writer’s block are worried about the end result of their project before anything is even set down on the page. If, when you sit down to write, you are thinking that it has to be the best, or a completely original concept, or something that will launch you into instant fame…you’ve got a guaranteed way to ensure you continue writing nothing for a good long while.

A related problem is feeling like you have to have something specific to say every time you write.  Again, you’re worried about the ending before you have a beginning.   Rhett is right — this does happen to everyone at some point, and it actually happens to me a lot.   The best way I’ve found to combat this is to take a different approach.  This might mean switching the music I’m listening to, going for a walk with the dogs and observing the outdoors closely, re-reading a poem I love, look over a magazine or recent newspaper, or talking to a good friend for a few minutes.

Most often, I just freewrite.  I write whatever pops into my head, no matter how silly or strange or mundane it might be.  Sometimes these sessions start with, “I have no idea what to write.”   That’s ok.  Eventually, something else comes up.   If, out of three pages of freewriting, I have only one line I can actually use…well, that’s one more line than I had when I started.

I asked some of my creative friends on twitter how they overcome a block and got some great answers:

@vixalicious: I do craft projects – it’s creative, but it uses a different part of the brain or something, and it refreshes me.

@jennyscottmusic: I know it’s nothing new, but I just take my guitar & play spur-of-the-moment, or search for a topic I could write about…

@feachador pointed out a great TedTalks video by Elizabeth Gilbert here: http://bit.ly/7awct

@adampknave:  Keep working.

Christine Kane also has a fantastic list of ways to jumpstart creativity on her blog here.

Keep working…this too shall pass.  You just have to get through it and find an approach you may not have tried yet.  I think we’re all inherently creative beings, and that our creativity *wants* to be expressed.  Our job is to find an outlet and keep the lines open.




Get Unblocked.

In an earlier post, my friend Rhett asked, “I often sit down to write, and I get this feeling like there’s nothing much to say. I’m sure everyone gets this, even if I am a more chronic case. Do you? If so, how do you work with that?”

This seems to be one of the many faces of “writer’s block” which, if you’ve ever spoken to someone who writes or read about writing, you’ve probably heard a lot about.

The most common form of writer’s block that I’ve experienced is ultimately based in fear and concern about what others will think. Fear that you’re not good enough, or that nothing you could possibly say is important or will be published, etc. etc.   You are comparing your (as yet nonexistent) work to everything else you’ve read and feel that you’re coming up short.

This is usually the fault of an overly aggressive internal editor (mine’s named Steve) and cripples any bit of creative impulse you had going.   People suffering under this type of writer’s block are worried about the end result of their project before anything is even set down on the page. If, when you sit down to write, you are thinking that it has to be the best, or a completely original concept, or something that will launch you into instant fame…you’ve got a guaranteed way to ensure you continue writing nothing for a good long while.

A related problem is feeling like you have to have something specific to say every time you write.  Again, you’re worried about the ending before you have a beginning.   Rhett is right — this does happen to everyone at some point, and it actually happens to me a lot.   The best way I’ve found to combat this is to take a different approach.  This might mean switching the music I’m listening to, going for a walk with the dogs and observing the outdoors closely, re-reading a poem I love, look over a magazine or recent newspaper, or talking to a good friend for a few minutes.

Most often, I just freewrite.  I write whatever pops into my head, no matter how silly or strange or mundane it might be.  Sometimes these sessions start with, “I have no idea what to write.”   That’s ok.  Eventually, something else comes up.   If, out of three pages of freewriting, I have only one line I can actually use…well, that’s one more line than I had when I started.

I asked some of my creative friends on twitter how they overcome a block and got some great answers:

@vixalicious: I do craft projects – it’s creative, but it uses a different part of the brain or something, and it refreshes me.

@jennyscottmusic: I know it’s nothing new, but I just take my guitar & play spur-of-the-moment, or search for a topic I could write about…

@feachador pointed out a great TedTalks video by Elizabeth Gilbert here: http://bit.ly/7awct

@adampknave:  Keep working.

Christine Kane also has a fantastic list of ways to jumpstart creativity on her blog here.

Keep working…this too shall pass.  You just have to get through it and find an approach you may not have tried yet.  I think we’re all inherently creative beings, and that our creativity *wants* to be expressed.  Our job is to find an outlet and keep the lines open.