Monday, 28 June 2010

Writer's/Creative block: this too will pass....

Last Wednesday I realised I had to completely re-invent chapter 4 of my present novel. Thursday I turned on my computer and found myself completely uninspired. My imagination was a grey concrete wall that my mind could not think a way around. This was ridiculous I thought. I figured that I always have ideas and that it was just fear or procrastination. I had a stern talk with myself, made more coffee and sat back down. The concrete wall was all I could see and unlike real concrete it held no differences or anomalies that could be imagined into more. No, a heavy dead end faced me at the entrance to that other world.

So what did I do? I panicked - obviously. Got grumpy - of course. Drank coffee, ate chocolate and then heavily criticised myself for being so pathetic. I did try engaging in my other creative activities like art journaling, music and photography because usually this kick starts my writing. But I became even more panicked to discover it seemed I'd lost total creative focus and confidence. Eventually I calmed down and remembered that 'all things do pass'. Meanwhile I did the following:

1. Went outside amongst real people. Yes, we writers and artists can become a little hermit like. We can be lost in our pretend worlds for huge periods of time. Going out for coffee with a friend and people watching refreshed me no end and of course gave me some character ideas.
2. Enjoyed some time in my garden which fed my senses and helped revitalise me.
3. Did a few practical jobs that I usually put off in favour of creativite activities. The boredom of these made me start to want to write again.
4. Rested. I think my mind was exhausted after being pushed. It isn't possible to run a marathon every day without it affecting your health. In the same way, trying to push myself creatively/mentally had exhausted my mind. In trying to push myself into greater productivity I'd managed the opposite.
5. Told myself that my imagination and editing muscles needed a chance to rest and recharge. Therefore I decided not to write for two days. Shortly after I decided this, in the way of reverse psychology as used on children, I started to get an itch to write. At first it was not unbearable but by the time two days were up I was desperate to write!

By day three I went back to my novel and re-invented chapter 4. Smoke rose from my keyboard as my fingers tapped enthusiastically eager to record the ideas that had been trapped for a couple of days behind that concrete wall. A few hours later I'd written a chapter I loved and I buzzed with the thrill of creating.

There are varying tools for dealing with those stuck & blocked days. However, sometimes we need to just accept that these blocked days are needed to recharge our imaginations and minds.

Next time you are uninspired, blocked or stuck it is worth taking a deep breath, quelling the panic and realising 'this too will pass'.



  1. Hello Katina. I recently discovered your blog and began following.

    I identify with the points you have raised in this post and agree with your recommendation of changing your activity and not panicking. I loved your description of how the re-invented chapter 4 materialised.

  2. Excellent techniques, especially gardening.

    For me, if things are looking tricky, reading brilliant fiction always helps (well, keeps me happy even if it doesn't actually move me on) plus long walks usually provide the key. Especially if you're not allowed home till you figure it out.

    Congratulations on getting through it - keep going!!

    Megan xx

  3. Way to go on working through the block!

    I think sometimes our subconscious minds do this to us because there is a great "something" that is percolating in the background. We have no idea about and it has to grow big enough for us to see it.

    I think the immediate creative block is much like a seed in the dark earth 'becoming' what ever it's going to become. We have to let it grow undisturbed for a time until the shoots pop through and it uncoils it's leaves to the sun!

    I hope I made sense. :) Cheers! Stephanie

  4. Great post, very useful for a beginner like me"

  5. Christine - Thank you :-) Look forward to getting to know you.

    Megan - reading brilliant fiction is inspiring for sure. But sometimes I have to be careful not to use the escapism of fiction as a procrastination tool. Lol.

    Stephanie - you made complete sense - I love the way you've explained it!

    Jo - thanks :-)


  6. Well done for working it through, Kat. It sounds like you did all the right things and agree that sometimes all that is needed is a break to re-energise - especially true for anybody with health issues. I don't know if you're anything like me, but I tend to push myself at writing when I can't do the physical stuff and then get thoroughly exhausted, mentally, and just have to stop and let it go for a couple of days. Be gentle with yourself and congratulations on finishing the chapter. x

  7. Elizabeth - Thank you for your support. I agree it is easy to overdo it mentally when trying to rest physically.

    Kat X


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