5 fun ways to beat writer’s block.
Whether a letter, a journal entry, a school project, or a simple email, writing is an inevitable part of life. For me personally, journaling is about communicating in honest conversation between myself and the page. It’s a process of extracting dormant ideas, and translating multifaceted feelings into words. If I posses the courage to pull away the defensive shields and look deeply inside, than the words on the page can serve as insightful mirrors of my soul. But when intimidation of unfamiliar territory keeps the shields in place, writer’s block sets in.
A first date conversation
In the traditional sense, I rarely suffer from the condition, except even high word counts can be deceiving. If I wrap caution tape around a certain depth of soul and journal uninteresting fluff on autopilot, the conversation between myself and the page sounds like that of an awkward first date. Self consciously forcing eye contact on the computer screen, I’m tongue tied as to what to say. Vainly attempting to sound more normal than genuine, I resort to safe shallow topics that bore the date and the document both. But recognizing that this is problematic, especially when I produce pretend prayers or states of heart for God, I have developed a few methods to write more transparently. The five tips below are not instructions on how to lace together grammatically correct sentences with polished sophistication. The internet offers plenty of advice from published authors and famous bloggers on that subject. Instead, this is a collection of what I’ve observed, and learned overtime, to best answer the question of “how can I say, what I want to say?”
- Identify Ursula
If the word count is high but the document reads like a disingenuous and trite manuscript written by stranger, it’s possible you’re struggling to find your voice. When this happens, it feels as though Ursula, the voice stealing villain of The Little Mermaid, has camped out in front of my computer with a remote control to mute me. I suspect for many that fear of vulnerability and rejection are the tentacles that take away the pen. But whatever it is for you identify it, remember Ursula is defeated in the end, and just keep swimming away.
- Dawn Delirium
One of the best ways to flee from Ursula, is writing early in the morning; before the alarm, and before the world wakes up with its waves of information and stimulation. In order to practice this method properly, you may not rise out of bed to first drink a cup of coffee, or shower. Scientific studies have shown that movement decreases delirium, and in this case, a hint eccentricity is desirable. Stay as still as possible, like a swaddled baby and jot down whatever comes to mind. I know this runs contradictory to the common advice about “dressing for success” to be on your “A-game.” But consider that your conscious mind, in it’s dreamy state, might have access to uniquely phrased, God given insights, floating around like astronauts just waiting to be reeled in to realization. But between the time the eyelids open and the work clothes come on, the thought process tends to become more professional, as if all the astronauts start marching in single file lines. I do not recommended dawn delirium for academic essays, but capturing the first jot of the day can act as a sharpener for the sword of your creative edge.
- Step Outside and Settle it
Steve Jobs held walking meetings, Aristotle taught walking classes, and Jesse Newton, asked my Dad permission to marry my sister while walking through the fall foliage of my home town. The concept of using a walk as a background for an important conversation is nothing new. Most people feel rejuvenated by the movement, and less conversationally restrained without the intense eye contact. Using the same principle, when my internal monologue shies away from the leaving the comfortable confines of my skull, I march outside and speak text into my phone instead. An increased level of mental sharpness and peace of mind arrives as I step away from the distractions, and finally, clear coherent phrases begin to replace the clutter of moments before. I have found this method effective not only for a journal entry, but also discussion board type school assignments, and even important emails. Just be sure to proofread your speak to text translations!
- Play Hard to Get
Sometimes, “just trying harder,” can be counter productive. Occasionally an idea pops into my head and leads me on with promising potential, only to disappear when I circle back to recall it later. But I can only wait around for a lost thought so long until saying “Hey look, if you want to play games and hide, go right ahead because I’m moving on.” Turning my back from the computer, and giving the concept its space, I proceed with other life tasks. But unsurprisingly, most of the time, the idea comes running back begging for attention; and the second time around, it’s far more articulate.
- Take the Midnight Train
Growing up, and still to this day over holidays, some of my most memorable conversations with my sisters, happened just before drifting off to sleep. Darkness takes out the embarrassment of blushing easily; and the midnight train can collide into conversations gone wrong, leaving the opportunity to “sleep on it.” At the days end, If I find myself sitting at a desk, in a well lit room unable to articulate anything, I climb into bed, and envelop myself in a blanket tent. It sets a scene of a silent stage that essentially says, it’s just you and God now. You are heard, understood, and loved. It’s safe to share. Then the shields come down and a new note is thumbprinted.
Writing will always be a process, but keeping these techniques at the ready certainly helps to break free from the rut. To recap, identify Ursula, write deliriously at dawn, step outside and settle it, play hard to get, and jump on the midnight train. Thank you for climbing aboard the readership, and I wish you well as you set sail in your own communicative endeavors!