It took 5 1/2 months, but I’m happy to say that my little case of Writer’s Block has finally cleared up. YAY!!!
How did this affliction manifest?…
* Out of the blue! One day I could write poetry, the next day I couldn’t. I couldn’t hear the rhythm of poetry. Ideas stopped popping into my head. I couldn’t feel the writer in me. I couldn’t find the link to my poetic side. If I hadn’t known I had written poetry, I wouldn’t have known that I was a poet. It felt lonely. An important part of me was MIA.
So what did I do to get through it?…
* I continued writing. I wrote letters and documents at work. Since it was only my poetic channels that were disconnected, I had no trouble writing other things. I couldn’t write a novel or a children’s book, but I couldn’t do that before, so no biggie. After a couple of weeks had passed, I wrote a few poems about not being able to write poems. I didn’t know if they were any good, but I wrote them anyway.
* I read a lot. Since I couldn’t hear the rhythm of poetry I chose to read novels. Frankly, I was afraid that reading poetry without the ear for it might do more harm than good in the long run. I didn’t want that to become my norm. I’m happy to say that I can read poetry again.
* I did some sketching, including the image of the little girl used for this blog post. (I got the cat from public domain when I started this blog site). That was a struggle at first too, which makes me think the creative part of my brain was just in need of a break.
What did I learn?…
* During that period, I felt like the writer part of me was missing. The connection was broken and I couldn’t just will it back into place. I knew I had to work for it and I knew I had to wait for it. I also knew I had to be patient. I realized that I could, and should, write about what I was going through…about not having new ideas (I had a whole list of undeveloped ideas, but without the poetic connection the list was of no help), about feeling lost, about feeling abandoned, about grief. I didn’t have my poet’s ear, but I wrote anyway. If the poems weren’t good, so what! Turns out, some of them were good.
* Write anyway, even if you can’t tell whether or not what you’re writing is good. It’s okay to write junk. Nobody else has to see it.
* Give yourself, and your brain, a break. It’s okay if you don’t write every day. Maybe your brain needs a rest.
* Keep a positive attitude. Try not to worry about not being able to write or about not getting ideas or about whatever it is that seems to be going on. Think of this as a healing time, a growing time. Guess what, when you aren’t looking at it anymore, it’ll tap you on the shoulder and announce itself: “I’m back!” Maybe not right away, but eventually.
* Remember that you are a writer…even if you can’t feel it at the moment. It might seem ridiculous to tell you to remember that you’re a writer, but if your block goes on for a bit, you might start doubting and forgetting. It’s important to remember. The truth is, you’re a writer. Writer’s Block can cause you to doubt yourself.
* Keep some of your work handy, visible. When I switched to poetry I framed three of my poems and hung them on the wall as inspiration. During my Writer’s Block phase, those framed poems were my reminders that I can, indeed, write. It would have been easy to look at them and get discouraged, but I chose to be positive.
* Try writing something different from what you usually write. Pick a different genre. Write non-fiction instead of fiction. Write poetry instead of novels. Write advertisements. The point is to challenge yourself by trying something new. When I switched from writing children’s stories to poetry I found my niche. If you’re stuck, switching it up might help get you going.
* Try writing about what you’re experiencing. Write it directly or indirectly. When Nothing Comes to Mind is a poem I wrote about not getting ideas for poems. Mind Games, another poem I wrote during my writer’s block, is about letting go of control.
* Respectfully ignore those who tell you that you are not experiencing Writer’s Block. (Some people don’t believe it exists.) Being blocked makes you feel vulnerable. Be strong. Don’t let their comments (or your own) get to you. You know what you are experiencing even if they don’t. I say it doesn’t matter what you call it, if your connection is lost or if you have to find a way around to get to the other side, then you’re experiencing something that is getting in the way of your writing…hence the term ‘Writer’s Block’.
* Don’t hyper-focus on any of this advice or on the fact that you are blocked from doing what you love.
* Don’t give up. Don’t give in. Acknowledging that you have Writer’s Block (or whatever you want to call it, if you want to call it anything) is not an excuse or a pass to not write. It is not the jailer’s key leaving you locked behind bars forever. It is not a label to live under. It is your cue to step it up in some ways and to take a rest in others. Your path around, through, under, over, however you get back to your writing, may be different from mine. My Writer’s Block ended as suddenly as it started. One day I couldn’t write poetry, the next day I could. My poetry brain is back. It’s a whisper, but I can hear it. And it’s awesome!
Excerpts from two poems I wrote during my Writer’s Block:
A verse from
When Nothing Comes to Mind:
If I could think of something
I would write about it now
Even for a silly rhyme
I think I’d take a bow
A verse from
you will find
what’s on your mind
if you’ll just let it be
I’m back to working on my first collection of poems, which I hope to publish very soon. It includes When Nothing Comes to Mind and Mind Games. I’m on the hunt for the cover now.
Have you ever experienced Writer’s Block? What did you do to get through it?