Friday, May 07, 2021

4 Ways to Break Writer's Block

Writer writing
Not me. I can’t get my nails painted that well.

As a 20-Something year old person with anxiety and depression, I get to call myself a writer. Every writer has troughs where they face this omniscient force we call “Writer’s Block.” Today, I am starting to refuse that this concept of writer’s block exists. I think we are just capable of being bored with our own creativity.

Now, since I can’t think of anything else to write, here’s 4 ways we can defeat this imaginary beast holding back our potential.

1. Don't Force Something Un-Organic

View of my brain at times

As a writer, I am on a journey across my mind like a walk across a desert. Constantly looking for the next body of water to sink into and refill my creativity canteen. When I hit those creative watering holes it can be a complete jackpot, or just enough to get me to the next watering hole.

However, across that desert I have to be focused enough to not get distracted by the mirages. To base this back in reality, these mirages are the ‘Algorithms’ across our various social media platforms. These algorithms trick our minds into thinking we are heading towards water, but we could in fact be walking away from our true gift.

All of this is to say that these tools at my disposal are so extremely powerful, but they should not be the focus of my craft. Search engine optimization, search algorithms, posting schedules, while important parts of creating content, cannot dictate my content. I need to stay focused on the real watering holes and keep refreshing my originality.

2. You're Not Original - And That's Okay

Yes, I know that one sentence ago I said “Keep refreshing my creativity.”, and that will certainly be a focus. Yet, I have to be able to come to terms with the simple fact that there is no such thing as originality. At least, not in the sense we all seem to strive for. If I can convey my message in a fun, creative and thought provoking way, then it shouldn’t matter if it’s undoubtedly original.

You can search the internet for a million methods of breaking Writer’s Block, but that doesn’t mean that this- my version – is any less original. It is original because it is mine. These 4 items are bred from my experience as a writer who got locked in what I thought was writers block for years.

My all original, home grown, revolutionary Sweater coming soon.

I have a wild metaphor for this one too, so strap in. If you knit a beautiful sweater, you don’t criticize yourself for using wool from the same store as someone else. You don’t look at your next sweater as ‘how can I revolutionize this, and knit like nobody else ever has?’. You enjoy the sweater for the work and passion that went into the stitching. Yet when I sit with an empty Word document, I box myself in and try to start a sheep farm with my own wool, and revolutionize the sweater. I’m not going to change the world of writing, but I can pour everything I have into the words that I use. 

3. Make Something Stupid

Typical Youtube Thumbnail
I’ve Made some Stupid Things. And I love it.
This is my favourite item on the list… When I feel creatively stuck, or I’m craving some freshly squeezed creativity juice, I have to be able to look outside of my current trajectory. In the time that has been live, I’ve written about a lot of different things, and created a lot of different things. I’ve written about gaming, family life, world news, and Pro Wrestling before landing on my current path. I started a brief side project of YouTube Gaming videos. I threw myself into everything, just to do it and make stupid stuff.
It really comes down to creating things for yourself, and keep doing it and doing it. But wording it ‘Make Something Stupid’ gets just enough of a chuckle out of me to actually take note of it, and keep those words in the back of my mind. When I begin to start doubting a project, I just remind myself that the whoel reason I’m doing this is to make something stupid, and have fun doing it. It also leaves me with quite a wide portfolio, and a catalogue to look back on.

4. Look To Your Past Work

Young Plants
If your first tomato plant dies, you’re allowed to plant again

A good practice I’ve started implementing in my writing practice is to actually look back at my previous work. I used to be of the mind that once something is done, it’s in the past and I am on to the next project. Yet, there is so much potential in all of my old work. 

I frequently listen to “The Creative Pep Talk” Podcast from Andy J Pizza, and one of the practices he constantly brings up is to “Plagarize Yourself”. In all of my writing, there are parts that work and parts that don’t. There is nothing stopping me from yanking a concept out of one of one of my articles, and working it into another one. I own it, and as long as I’m not a complete broken record, I am getting closer and closer to my best creative work.

I’ve started the process of building a Podcast. (More on that soon, so Subscribe and Follow) At first, I was drafting all brand new ideas, building outlines and checklists. Yet, when I started going back over my recent work, and realized just how much substance was there. I could pull concepts, and pull inspiration from my current work, to feul my new endeavor of a Podcast. Looking at my past work, is helping me just make something stupid, and keeping the flow of creativity running.

I have to start looking at future projects, and rejecting the existence of Writer’s Block. I can always make something and keep the creative journey moving…. But like, if you have any tips to beat Writer’s Block send them my way. For a friend.

Anthony McGuigan
July 2020

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