When undertaking a large project of any kind, writing, painting, animated, building, whatever, how do you keep from hitting that metaphorical brick wall? You work so hard for so long, slaving away, and then BAM! You’ve got nothing. This is a barricade that everybody encounters in their lifetime. The thought occurred to me while writing The Drive Home, how do you avoid writer’s block? This is something I had been suffering with over the last couple weeks, but I kept on and have been powering out some of my novel, hence the reason why I haven’t posted in a little while. So, after wracking my brain, scavenging through the minds of other fellow writers, and hours of research (research spawned from running into a serious case of writers block) I came up with a list of suggestions to better avoid and to scale ‘the wall’ once you’ve collided with it head on.
- Cleanliness is next to creativeness: Keep your writing space clean. Your desk, you laptop, your local Starbucks. Just make sure you work in a clean, clutter free environment. When you’re not worried about the smell emanating from last nights dishes or cleaning the sticky soda that just transferred from the soda ring on your table to your arm, you feel more creative. Your creativity will feel more able to flow without these types of distractions.
- Take a shower once in a while: Some of my greatest spurts of inspiration come when I put my head under the shower nozzle and the water rushes over and muffles my hearing. Next to the tub being an idea machine, feeling clean reinforces my point made in #1. Just like your comfort will be enhanced in a clean environment, if you don’t smell of yesterdays activities, the grunge wont be there to affect your judgment. Lastly, look the part. Dress as if you were going out of the house to work. If you sit around in your pajamas, or less, you get too comfortable and may not want to do anything productive. So as your old career counselors used to say, dress the part.
- Your brain needs blood too: Your mind is a muscle, and just like your other limbs, if you don’t use them they will get weak. So this one has two parts: first do something to get you mind working, besides just writing. Try reading something or trying your hand a crossword or Sudoku puzzle. Do something to make you think that will still take your mind off of your writing. Part two: Go out and be active. Go for a quick jog to get the blood pumping through your veins. The fresh air and the activity will help prepare you for a marathon session of scribbling away, your mind will be ready to get to work. Plus after you’ve gone out and run yourself ragged, sitting down and writing for a while will feel like a vacation when you get to take a seat and not move for a few hours.
- Whatever you do, don’t believe the internet’s lies: I cannot emphasize this enough, the internet is NOT your friend. When it comes to being productive the internet is one of two things that will completely ruin your concentration. You may believe yourself when you say, “I’m just going to check my twitter real quick,” or, “I just need to make sure I have no emails real fast.” I’m sorry, but we, myself included, are all full of shit. If you so much as crack open that Pandora’s box, you’ll get yourself distracted for at least and hour. So, best practice is to just don’t do it.
- Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day: Eat something good for breakfast. Plain and simple, well not so simple. I want you to eat something delicious for starters, but there is a catch. Try to eat something delicious and healthy. Grab a banana, or some other fruit, just something fairly healthy for breakfast will help. You can still eat some of the usual a couple slices of bacon, some buttery hash browns, but eating something that’s not soaked in fat or grease will keep you from feeling full and bloated, which can really ruin you determination.
- Early Bird: Try to get started fairly early in the morning, right after you wake up. The morning and late at night tend to be some of the most creative times of the day. The morning is great because your mind is still relaxed and rested, it hasn’t been worked hard all day long. So take advantage of it.
- Witness creativity: Throughout my youth teachers would chastise me incessantly about my methods for being creative and getting my work done. I would pop on my headphones and listen to inspiring, exciting music, for me it was usually some gangsta rap. So what makes you feel inspired? Look at some beautiful artwork, watch an awe inspiring movie or just play some of your favorite music to get your urge to be productive shifted into high gear.
- Go away: Your used to your house, your office and computer desk. You’re also too comfortable there. So go somewhere that isn’t too distracting, take your laptop or a pen and paper to your local watering hole and just sit and “go to town.” This is why you see so many people, nose deep in their keyboards, at places like Starbucks or bookstores. These places are not too distracting, unless they are excessively busy.
- Don’t be afraid to be unorthodox: Go about it another way, if you’ve been stuck on that one, stupid line for three hours now, try writing that section another way. Or skip that section all together. Try outlining the scene you’re writing, or the conversation, just with nice easy bullet points that get the idea across. Or you could try doing a map or just talk with somebody, use them as a sounding board or a jumping off point. The other thing to try is to skip that line, don’t worry about it being perfect, you’re going to change it again later anyway. Skip the line or even the chapter if you’d like, write something different but still related to your work. The only restriction I would place on this, is to not write the ending, if you already know and have written out the ending, you may lose that inspiration. So just be cautious and keep it up.
- Whatever you do, don’t panic! This one is the most important. Just don’t stress, don’t worry about your deadline until you must, just know it will get done. When you panic, you get sloppy, you get rushed, and you don’t care nearly as much. You become more worried about the deadline than the quality of your work. And that just can’t happen.
So just think about it, take your time and do what you gotta do. Don’t fall of the writing wagon, get some help if you need to. This is one addiction that, when it kicks in, it’s ok to indulge. These are just a few tips on fending off writer’s block, if you need to figure out something else, do some research. There are hundreds of different ways to keep yourself on track, find what works the best for you and keep it up! And by all means, if you’ve had a fool proof way of avoiding writer’s block let me know below!