17 Hacks to Combat Creative Blocks
Writer's block or a creative block is not scary. It's a sign. To me it means it's time to slow down, take stock and think about what's next.
In my experience, writer's blocks or blocks of any kind usually happen when something isn't adding up and we're yet to realise what. Subconsciously we may already have, hence the block.
This is why time helps. Because you need a creative solution. Lateral thinking. Right-brain answers.
A change of direction in what I'm doing helps combat the block.
Have you ever noticed how creative you are on a holiday? And when you're back, blip. Everything goes away? It's to do with monotony and stress.
Relaxation = Creativity.
Cultivating fun hobbies and incorporating stillness into our lives is one way to go about it.
I've divided my hacks into the following: how to take the perfect break, ways to work, everyday inspiration, all of which help with writer's block.
Taking a break.
I use the Pomodoro technique to work using a free app which monitors your time and sets off alarms. You work for 25 minutes and take a 5 minute break. After 2 hours you take a 15 minute break. It may sounds iffy but it makes a world of a difference to your productivity. I've written for 8 hours a day with this tool, I kid you not.
Whatever your work system is, there is one thing required for a break to actually work: Space.
Many times you need to physically get out of where you work, to relax mentally, even if its to make a cup of coffee or go to the loo. This is especially true for those of us who work from home or at the same office desk all day. Your body will thank you too. And your eyes.
I Take a break. Meditate. Breathe. It happens to all of us.
II Go for a walk with music (and your dog if you have one).
III Inspiration doesn't always live in a vacuum. Sometimes it's under a tree or in the pages of a book or that new Marvel movie ;)
IV Get some exercise, yay! I work out in some form or the other everyday and afterwards my mind is always recharged enough to look at old problems in new ways.
V Leave the house. Do groceries, grab a coffee. meet a friend, visit a gallery, anything. Don't allow the feeling of a block to persist. Don't condition yourself to feeling it. Hence the earlier tip to move out of the space where you work.
VI Work the setting... pamper your senses. It's about the sights, sounds and smells too. Invite in the muse, don't demand... think ambient music, plants, candles, coffee and dogs.
VII Don't push it, you'll just have to change it later. So many times the answers to my questions come when I'm doing something completely different like working out or driving.
When you're working, it's a good idea to have a basic routine down but good to change things like where you're working, your particular beanbag or chair or switching to a standing desk for a day. This helps fight the boredom. New places mean you see things in a different way.
VIII Work in a room with natural daylight. Or all the lights on. This is to avoid feeling dull and sleepy. It's to do with the body's circadian rhythm and really makes a difference.
IX Think of work you've done before and are proud of. You can do it again, even if it doesn't seem like it at the moment.
X Remember, this too will pass.
XI Try three pages of stream of consciousness writing, just getting all the BS out of your way. This is a little dicey as you may end up perpetuating your block more. Tread with caution and remember you intent to move past the block and not vent about it.
XII When inspiration comes, drop all else... I've cancelled outings, plans even workouts once in a while when I feel a creative wave coming on... you'll know it when the feeling hits you.
XIII Take one from Mr. Hemingway. Stop working before the inspiration goes away. Save a reason to come back to your desk tomorrow.
XIV Change your workplace temporarily. Sometimes even physically taking my laptop to a different part of the room breaks me out of the mindset causing the block.
XV Read, read, read everyday. Or paint or sketch or cook. Anything to give the thinking mind a break early morning and after work. I'd advise something like reading when you wake up or a bit of stretching or yoga. In the evenings I'm totally for picking up a hobby that involves your mind too, like chess or learning a new language. It's surprising how much a few hours a week can accomplish down the road.
XVI Make sure whatever media you take in is helping you creatively. There's only so much bad comedy or bad TV you can take. Sometimes when I watch good stuff, I'm furiously making creative notes during or after.
XVII At times stress or a core trigger issue can be causing a block, especially if the work is creative. It helps to talk this over with a friend or a counsellor and get a bird's eye view of things. Notice if you're getting stuck on the same things over and over. Time to resolve some shit.
Here you go. These are my tips to kick your writer's block in the butt but not before acknowledging that it's trying to show you something. Happy writing or whatever creative beast you've chosen to slay!