On the train to Kent, England
I have had an extremely busy summer. Today, at Broadway Market, the wind blew and the three of us shivered.
“The seasons are changing… it’s going to be autumn soon,” Richard commented.
“Summer just started!” I protested. But no. In two weeks it will be September, and summer will be coming to a close. I have been so busy this summer that the past few months have gone by in a blink of an eye.
There were definitely fun times: my first real press trip, to Italy, was incredible, and I had time in both France and Spain. I moved flats, which involved buying and setting up all my furniture and packing and unpacking all of my belongings. I also successfully ran a major project with my company and completed a lot of freelance jobs. I wrapped up my first year of school, kept up a healthy dating life, and saw friends as much as I possibly could. Not too bad. The one area I feel that I failed in, however, is my personal creativity. This blog has gone quiet.
I go through phases of blogging, just as I think that all people in creative fields do, whether their craft is painting or writing or singing or dancing. We all go through phases in life where we feel successful, where our output is high and our accomplishments prolific. This summer, for me, was definitely not one of these times. In fact, thinking about blogging often made me feel sad – sad because I love it so much and I wasn’t doing it, but also because I just couldn’t think of a damn thing to write.
I’ve struggled with writer’s block before, but never this badly. I simply could not motivate myself to write anything; even status updates on my Facebook page or a tweet of 140 characters seemed strenuous some days. Friends, family, and even some readers asked if everything was okay. Although I’ve never been one to care about statistics, I couldn’t help but notice them plateau. I felt guilty for not blogging – not because I think so highly of this blog that I felt that I was disappointing people, but because I was disappointing myself.
“Yes,” I’d respond to those who asked if I was all right. “I’m just going through bit of writer’s block.”
So, what do you do when your blog goes quiet, or how do you get over writer’s block? Here’s what I plan to do.
1. Recognise the problem. I blamed my writer’s block on so many other factors at first… I was too busy with school, I was too busy with work, I was too busy with life. The fact of the matter is, however, that if I truly loved to write (which I do), I would make time for it. I want to write. I can’t make excuses for not writing anymore.
2. Get away from the computer / out of the house. With my project at work finally wrapping up, at least this section of it, I had a night to myself on Wednesday. I thought, “Tonight is the night that I will write for hours!” I then proceeded to stare at the screen for half an hour before resorting to browsing Imgur. I could have moved on to Netflix and then the night would have been over; instead I got up, closed the laptop, and went for a walk. It totally cleared my head, and on the way home I even stopped in my local for a pint, where I instantly started scribbling down ideas in my notebook.
3. Turn off the wifi. For a blogger, and for most people in general, this is really difficult. I admit that I am easily distracted, though, so I need some time every day to get offline. Otherwise, I check my email, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and a host of other favourite websites every hour or so (and sometimes, sadly, even more). To truly be productive, I need to get away from the Internet.
4. Write as soon as you wake up. I am not a morning person, but an author once told me to do this and I have to say it works really well. If you can, as soon as you wake up, start writing. Do not even go online before doing so. Just open your laptop and start typing.
5. Keep a notebook. That notebook I said I was scribbling in? I always have it on me. It is filled with the most nonsensical things, but when I’m feeling lost as to what to write about, I can go back and look through the notebooks and hopefully get a few ideas. When I moved to London I brought every journal I’ve kept since 2006, and I’ve been looking through them this past week – they triggered a lot of memories and a lot of stories that can be told.
6. Be active. I am not active, so I cannot attest to this one, but I have read it countless times and it must be true. I am joining a gym here in London when I return from a visit to Canada because, yes, I’d love to be physically healthier, but I’m also banking on it making me creatively / mentally healthier as well.
7. Read. In all the busyness this summer, I hadn’t read nearly as much as I usually do. I finally picked up a book this week – Youth by J.M. Coetzee – and it felt so good to read I nearly cried. It also inspired me to pick up the proverbial pen and start writing again.
8. Do other creative things. Last year I got really into scrapbooking and playing the ukulele (guys, I’m cool, I swear). I hadn’t done either of those things this summer and so last week started both again. Sure enough, after playing a few songs on the ukulele I started feeling a bit more motivated to do other creative things, like write.
9. Clean your room / flat / house. I cannot work if I am in a cluttered, messy space. I spent a few hours cleaning my flat yesterday and finished up a lot of the last bits of organising I needed to do after moving in.
10. Try writing exercises. There are hundreds of these to be found online… they might seem a bit rudimentary at first, but I think they can be really useful in at least starting to write. My favourite to do is to pick up a dictionary, open a page at random, and pick a word at random. I then have to try to use that word in a paragraph. It is oddly effective.
As I said, I am still struggling with writer’s block and I know that it will be a challenge to overcome it. I’m in a rut, but I will try my best to do these ten things. At the end of the day, however, there is only one thing I keep telling myself, and that is: there is nothing, nothing, better than the feeling I get when I’m proud of something I’ve written. I fucking love to write, and I love this blog. There will always be times when I can’t think of anything to say, or when other things in my life will have to take a bit more priority. The only way I’ll ever get over writer’s block is to just start typing, start writing, and see what happens.
Have you ever struggled with writer’s block, or a block on your creativity? If you’re a blogger, has your blog ever gone quiet for a while and you’ve struggled to post again?