A little while back, we posted Liz’s 10 tips for overcoming writer’s block (which you can read here and here). Five months and three more lockdowns later, many writers are struggling more than ever to find inspiration for their creative endeavours. Little wonder when our brain space is taken up with anxiety and case numbers, and our worlds are confined to the 5k radius around our homes.
With springtime just around the corner, it feels like we have once again wasted half the year indoors. The seemingly endless cycle of snap-lockdowns and semi-freedom has produced a kind of writer’s block that is not easy to combat. Writers have long lamented not having the time and space to write, but now that we have all the time and space we could ever ask for, we don’t know what to do with it. We need incidental meetings with strangers, people-watching, or deep and meaningful conversations with close friends to spur on our creativity.
So if you’re struggling to put pen to paper, here are some tips to help get you writing again so you can finish that manuscript you started back in lockdown 1.0:
Take a walk
We all know the benefits of exercise and fresh air for our mental acuity, and it is especially important in lockdown to get out and give yourself a break from staring at the same four walls. Take your phone or a notebook and keep your eyes peeled. Jot down thoughts, observations, and snatches of inspiration. Take photos or sketch the things that catch your eye. Then, take all of this home with you and let it settle. It may not spark any brilliant ideas immediately, but you’ll have stretched your creativity, and your calves, and something in your notes may jump out at you later on.
Take a shower
Most writers are probably familiar with the ‘aha!’ moment of composing the perfect sentence mid-shower. This is because the shower is one place where we switch our brains off and allow our minds to wander. This works particularly well when you’re mid-project and are stuck on a specific detail. Next time you’re having a creative block or can’t figure out how to move the plot forward, try jumping in the shower.
Phone a friend
Try calling someone and having a chat. Lockdowns can often render time meaningless, so having that touchstone of hearing about someone else’s day, and telling them about yours, can help keep you anchored. Call another writer friend and tell them what you’re struggling with. Chances are they’re feeling the same, and will find it just as cathartic to discuss their writerly woes with you. You may even be able to brainstorm some solutions to each others’ problems.
It sounds a little absurd, but writing is great for overcoming writer’s block. If you’re stuck on a project and can’t think of how to continue, then leave it aside and take a break from it, but don’t stop writing altogether. Stream of consciousness writing can be a great way to purge all the muck that is blocking your creative access without putting pressure on the end result. Alternatively, you could keep a dream journal. Whether they’re mundane or extraordinary, write down your dreams in as much detail as you can before they fade from your memory. This too is a low pressure way to keep yourself in the habit of writing, and who knows, maybe one of your dreams will inspire your next novel.
With nowhere else to go, lockdown is the perfect time to work your way through all those unread books on your shelf. Try to avoid your Kindle and get stuck into a real, physical book instead. This is nothing against e-Books specifically, but after a long day of staring at a screen, switching off from your devices is a good way to let your brain relax and really engage with the written word. It can take a minute to unwind and focus enough to really lose yourself in the story, but reading a good book is often the best way to fall back in love with writing. And, if you finish everything on your shelf, or you’re just looking to treat yourself to a new book, check out the Laneway Press bookshelf for some great reads. Whatever you read, try to immerse yourself in it completely.
In these unprecedented times, getting through writer’s block can be even harder than usual, but hopefully this list offers a helping hand.
If you have any tips or tricks for overcoming writer’s block that you’d like share with us, feel free to leave a comment.
Stay safe, and keep on writing!