How do you deal with writer’s block?
There’s a lot out there about writer’s block and whether it even exists. When it comes to anything other than stuff I write for myself (client work, college essays, etc.), deadlines are really amazing when I’m blocked. It’s like you gotta get something out in the next twelve hours, might as well start and figure it out.
And the great thing about client work is when I’m blocked on more creative or personal work (i.e. fiction) is that I can use it as an excuse when I don’t feel particularly creative or inspired. Oops, sorry novel, gotta get these blog posts and a couple e-blasts written, then I have to edit that newsletter…guess I’ll tackle you later.
And then months go by and I haven’t written more than 100 words in whatever “big project” I’m “working” on.
But I’m a firm believer in the saying “When the Muse arrives, she better find you working.” I’ve found over the years that forcing out fiction and prose, with time (usually), it starts to come easier and easier. I read an interview with an actor ages ago (can’t remember who) about remembering lines — he said that your memory is like a muscle; the more you use it, the stronger it gets.
Der — just like, oh, everything else in the entire world, with practice, it gets easier. Creativity is like a muscle — with practice, with regular “workouts,” so to speak, it gets stronger over time.
Now here’s the super fun and totally not obvious metaphor about regular strength training — because to reap maximum benefits from strength training, you need to take care of your body with good food, adequate rest, all that stuff.
So, naturally, when it comes to creativity…you basically gotta do the same stuff. Get enough sleep, take breaks, fuel your mind + body…and make the time to do the work. While having faith that it’ll pay off, that eventually the finicky little Muse will decide to pay you a visit.
Obviously, what I’ve yet to figure out is how to make this an ongoing, sustainable habit, instead of one that comes and goes in short bursts. There is, unfortunately, a vast difference between “knowing” and “doing.”