Being a writer sometimes means coping with loneliness and lack of inspiration. Your best work may retreat deep into the forest of inchoate ideas that inhabit your subconscious. On occasion, your subconscious may go on strike, refusing to allow anything usable to emerge into the sunlight. Writer’s block can be remarkably frustrating and stressful, especially if you’re facing a deadline.
Traditional methods of breaking the logjam of words don’t always work. Writing a silly little story or cranking out semi-random text just for the mental exercise may result only in mildly amusing but pointless stories or nonsensical passages that go nowhere. Such an extreme case of writer’s block requires stronger medicine.
The following five unusual methods may be just what you need to shatter the spell of creative paralysis and get your words flowing freely again.
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Talking to Yourself
At first, you might find yourself looking around nervously for attendants in white coats who will take you away for a mental health evaluation. This feeling passes. Pretend that your own subconscious is another person, or create an imaginary friend who is weird but fun. You might even pretend that a small figurine on your desk is alive.
Ask questions out loud about anything that catches your fancy, and have your chosen mental device answer back. Wondering out loud why platypuses don’t live in trees or how long it would take to bicycle to the moon could serve as an amusing opening conversational gambit.
Perhaps your imaginary friend or subconscious persona will later respond to more serious topics with surprising insights that had been awaiting an invitation to emerge from your mental forest of half-formed ideas. Sometimes it takes speaking it before you can know how to write a story.
Perhaps an imaginary friend will tease you over your authorial failings. They might crack jokes about your current drought of words, or suddenly ask difficult moral questions that lead you into unexpected directions of contemplation.
Regardless of the mental device you choose, approaching your reserves of imagination in such a sideways manner can result in an unexpected bounty of words that might otherwise never have sprung forth.
Embracing Your Emotions
Our emotions define our deepest selves. It’s possible that your current eruption of writer’s block stems from unrealized emotional turmoil. Giving your emotions a virtual massage can resettle them into a different configuration.
Anger, fear, frustration, and sadness are common causes of mysterious creative blockages. Instead of dismissing them as mere impediments, embrace them. Let your negative emotions run amok. Obviously, this doesn’t mean screaming at the top of your lungs and running into the streets with a butcher knife or setting the house on fire. You’re not a barbarian.
Guide your strongest emotions into writing whatever seems to release the tension into plain view. Ranting and raving about what bugs you the most is perfectly acceptable. What you learn about your feelings might surprise or shock you. That’s part of what it means to be an intelligent yet emotional human being as opposed to being a rhododendron or a yellowfin tuna.
In short, dealing with your emotions instead of ignoring or suppressing them may be the only road back to productive writing. You might even become a better writer from understanding yourself.
Stealing an Idea
The old saying has it that ideas are a dime a dozen, but in reality, some ideas are better than others. Originality is vastly overrated. Expecting your writing to be truly original at every major turn is unrealistic and unfair to yourself.
Great writers routinely steal other people’s ideas without remotely infringing on copyrights or sounding like imitative hacks. For the sake of breaking a serious mental block, you can push the line on this concept with a private version of someone else’s actual writing.
Just retracing the journey with different words can jog your own imagination into resumed vigor. Your plodding rewording or imitative expansion of a published tale, character, or story world might even evolve into a free-spirited flight of imagination that soars far past the source text into that rare beast, a truly original story.
Needless to say, prudence calls for keeping such “monkey see — monkey do” imitations of other authors under lock and key. Horrible embarrassment would ensue if they ever escaped into the wilds of social media, and your reputation might be forever tarred.
Destroying your casual exercises almost immediately after writing them might be the safest precaution against an unintended but highly unfortunate public release.
Creeping Around a Bit
You don’t have to peep into bedrooms and stalk random folks in the streets to learn about human nature. Just watching ordinary social interactions in shopping malls, restaurants, coffee shops, and innumerable other public venues can evoke interesting thoughts about why people behave the way they do.
You can invent backstories explaining their motivations, desires, goals, and personal problems. Anything goes. That woman scolding her small child in a fast-food joint is a top executive at an aircraft manufacturing firm that has been laying off personnel in sporadic waves.
The woman has been working long hours to demonstrate that she’s an indispensable human resource who shouldn’t be laid off, and her small son has been acting up from rarely seeing his mother. They’re dining at a low-cost restaurant because the mother’s cancer treatments last year drained her savings.
Letting your mind wander where it will in this manner can easily spark interesting ideas for believable characters and strong worlds that irresistibly shove aside puny barriers such as writer’s block.
Escaping to the Great Outdoors
Last but not least, shoving your writer’s block outside to encounter the majesties of Mother Nature could be the sovereign remedy for what ails thee. The towering trees, the beautiful flowers, and the enormous sky are far more inspiring than a dragooned kitchen table or the stuffy walls of your office.
Even sitting on a bench in a small city park with your favored writing tools has the innate power to transport your imagination into gentle breezes of productivity.
Failing all else, brushing up on basic concepts as needed will help as well with winning your battle against writer’s block.
Another powerful tool for many is the renowned Camp NaNoWriMo phenomenon, which invites aspiring writers to spice up their spring fancies and summer dreams with absolutely any kind of creative project that involves wrangling words. It’s an exciting writing challenge that brings many together in the pursuit of something amazing.