The hardest thing for me about not being able to write is that I feel like I should keep sitting there at the computer, trying to tough it out. Unfortunately, this martyr’s approach rarely helps and often hurts. Sure, if you’re merely stuck, then sitting there and continuing to slog through the muck until you get to the productive writing again can be a good thing. But if you are truly experiencing the writer’s block that is usually associated with creative burn-out, what you probably need to do is…Step Away from the Computer.
Below is a list of tips I’ve compiled.
1. Do something different. It should not involve typing. It should not involve the internet. It should be all about living your real life in the real world. Cook. Garden. Visit a friend. Go for a jog. Walk your dog. Do things that make you happy and remind you that you are a productive human being even when you are not writing.
2. Play at creativity. The most joyful and exciting creative times I’ve ever experienced where when I was a kid, new to the creative process. I was fearless, and I was having fun. This is what we all need to tap into when our creative efforts have become painful and even miserable. Try some type of creative act you don’t normally do, like cartooning, or sketching, or painting, or writing poetry, or composing a song. Whatever it is, it should be FUN to you, and you should not be worried about the final product. It’s all about being in the moment and rolling with whatever happens.
3. If number two works well for you, and you want to take your newfound creative fun a step further, try giving it an audience, even if just an audience of one. Maybe you compose a silly poem for your best friend’s birthday, or you paint a postcard to send to your mom. Keep it safe (no critical audiences–choose people who will love whatever you do!), and keep it in the spirit of fun without pressure. This is not the time to summon your inner Martha Stewart.
4. Try writing something very different from what you normally write. If it goes well and you love the results, consider submitting it somewhere. This is only if the pressure of submission doesn’t bog you down in writer’s block again. If it does, then just have fun–write a story for your kids, or a family history for your grandmother, or the like.
5. Change your scenery. I’ve had success moving from my much beloved place on the bed, where I usually work on my laptop, to a neighborhood cafe. I hated doing it, but once you have a set of negative habits or patterns associated with your usual writing spot, you’re going to have to shake things up to get past those negative patterns.
I’ll add to this list as more tips occur to me…