Some people live with the illusion that so-called “real writers” never experience writer’s block. That’s a myth. The name of the concept actually states that pretty clearly. 😉
There also abound pieces of advice on how to fight writer’s block. Today, I do not wish to tackle the fight but the stratagems you should have up your sleeve to ensure victory.
Dependance Is Bad
The human nature loves recognizable patterns. The alarm clock rings; we wake up. Friday night arrives; we crave to unwind. Our better half’s name shows on the caller ID; we smile. Actions often repeated become a reflex which can serve us or not. In a way, we are very well-trained animals.
As a writer, our training should be as flexible as possible.
I know writers who can only write when music is playing, tea is drank, food is consumed, etc. When I say “can only write”, I mean it; take away the element they associate to writing and the writer’s block is almost automatic. They are dependant on a particular stimulus to write.
That is bad.
In the end, you can do what you want but I strongly recommend not to include a specific activity in your writing routine. Try to not always play music, drink tea, eat food or whatever your natural instinct drives you to. This way, you’ll avoid getting trapped in your habit. Plus, those activities are likely to become creative triggers.
I call “creative triggers” any activity one can do while writing that fuels creativity. Triggers can be virtually anything and the key to defeat future writer’s block is to discover what your triggers are as soon as possible. In a way, triggers become another form of reflex we can train ourselves to respond to and use when the need arises. I kid you not; the human mind is an amazing thing.
Some triggers are naturally in us and widely known sources of inspiration: music, images, quotes, etc. That’s one way to spark the imagination. The key is to reinforce the trigger by perceiving it as the counter to writer’s block and limit its use to that situation. Other seemingly unrelated activities can also become triggers.
If I use myself as an example, music is one of my triggers. When I can’t find the words to write a scene, I select a song that fits the mood and the scene almost writes itself. If my attention keeps wandering, I eat something crunchy. If I need ideas without organisation, I pour myself some tea. I also tend to twirl my pen between my fingers as if it powered my brain when a brainstorm isn’t productive.
Moderation Is Key
As I wrote before, triggers become tools against writer’s block if their use is limited to that situation. It’s not unlike a medication losing its effect over time. Unfortunately, you can’t really crank the music’s dose (volume doesn’t help unless you want to piss off the neighbors).
You should find your triggers and use them when needed. As you might have noticed, I have triggers for different natures of writer’s block.
And I swear my writing down times never last more than a minute if I don’t want them to. 😉