Beating the Block

I’ve been going through some pretty total writers’ block recently. I shan’t get much into the details but between the demands of real life, frustration with editing and mental health issues, its been total.

So how am I going to get out of the funk? I read a friend’s blog the other day on getting back it – Small Steps, Tiny Bites by Juliana Spink-Mills – and realised that I did need to think about taking definite steps to rebuilding my writing habit.

Juliana’s article contains a lot of things that I think are very helpful. In particular I think she’s right to talk about comfort books. For me, the block includes a loss of passion, a loss of connection to why my stories are important and should be told. Reading the books I love most, the books that helped convince me some things are important, that is one way to help rekindle the passion. 

But there’s other things that can help.

For me, music can be huge as both a source of storytelling inspiration and mood regulation. Listening to songs that’ll get me in the right frame of mind, rather than any old thing, will help. This thread on SFFChronicles is full of some of my favourites for getting in a storytelling mood but sometimes its less about getting something that brings the ideas and more about something that brings energy. My Shot from Hamilton is my current high energy song of choice but its good to mix it up; for a while it was Psychonaut by Fields of the Nephilim.

Another big one is exercise. Beyond it being just good for you and your mood, there’s also the extent to which I think stories on the move. Everyone does stories differently; I don’t come up with my stories staring at a computer screen. That’s just where I sit when I try to force them out. I come up with them while outside and walking. Its easy to lose physical activity when days are long and boring and you get itchy just to get from A to B to Couch.

Writing is part of a person’s life; it becomes intertwined with everything. If a person is struggling with writing and the standard list of writing exercises and small goals isn’t cutting it alone, then it is worth examining how deep the roots go. The most trivial seeming things can help if they create the right conditions for writing. No writer succeeds without getting the words out but there are countless different paths to take to get you to that space.

And in writing this paragraph, I’ve realised somewhere else I’ve been going wrong. I haven’t been talking enough about writing in a way that creates an enthusiasm for it. It’s been a fallow time for forum discussion; private correspondence with friends has gone dry for want of progress. But the feedback goes two ways on that. Sometimes a conversation with others can be the spark you need that particular day; sometimes a word of praise the small win you’re looking for.

So that’s my to do list. Walk more, talk more, listen to the songs that amp me up, and then easing myself back into the saddle with comfortable books and small pieces of writing. Like this blog. 

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