Swimming Through the Swamp: Getting Around Writer’s Block
There it is. Sitting and staring at a blinding white screen with a little black line screaming at you to “Get your head in the game, Troy”. High school musical fans? No? Nice. Moving on.
Nothing comes to mind besides crickets and the sound of chicken cooking in hot oil. Maybe that last one is just me. Either way, we all experience it. That’s right. I’m talking about writer’s block, baby. This happens to everyone and it’s okay!
Occasionally, our creative juices get clogged up in the massive brain drain. You gotta turn on that garbage disposal, slice up all those stale thoughts and get some new inspiration so you can come back and create something bangin’.
However, we’re going to stay away from the usual “take a break” tips because I do that and five days later I’m still “taking a break” sipping margaritas on the porch. So, let’s get some fresh ideas out there.
1. Look elsewhere
This is one of the first things I always do and it’s the most helpful tip here.
For some reason, I attempt to write in a comedic style so when I’m in a slump, I like to sit down and watch stand-up comedy to get myself in that state of mind. I’ll read funny bloggers (looking at you fattymccupcakes), re-read some of the best Twitter beef, listen to funny podcasts, or watch Gypsy Sisters. Sifting through Pinterest or even looking through camera rolls can jog your thoughts as well. Read, watch or listen to anything that’s inspiring and gets you into a writing mindset that matches your style.
Secondly, don’t underestimate the power of a good Google search. “Funny Instagram bios” “most boring conversation topics” “words that rhyme with dingus” and “jokes about travellers diarrhoea” are all things I’ve Googled looking for inspiration and information to jog my thoughts.
Use the results, add your own flair and create something better.
2. Feel something for once!
Hopefully, you’re writing about something you’re passionate about. Otherwise…what? Whatever the topic is, tap into your emotional connections to it and try to recreate them. Think about how easy it is to write a creepy love letter to a celebrity or a rage text to a roommate. Channel those feelings!
“But Morgan, I don’t have any specific feelings towards the rise and fall of gasoline prices in middle America”. Well for one, I’m not sure why you’re writing about something you don’t care about but if you are, forge some emotion! Pretend you’re a wealthy oil salesman who really does care about the rise and fall of gasoline prices in middle America!
Try to connect the topic to some emotions. Like having to write about sports and being reminded of that rage-inducing ex of yours that would always ditch you to ‘watch the game with his buddies’.
See? Inspiration! Try to make a connection between the topic and an emotionally-evoking memory of it and write about it.
Curse away that writer’s block.
3. Make writing an event
If I’m not feeling up to writing, I’ll psych myself up to have the best possible writing day ever.
Now, I’m annoying as hell and do this with almost everything in life but it makes all the things I do so much more enticing.
- Schedule a day and wear the comfiest clothes – mine is a huge t-shirt with holes and milkshake stains but it feels like butter all over me. Or if you wanna feel cute, look cute!
- Gather the most top-tier drinks and snacks – preferably not alcoholic drinks. No one really wants drunken thoughts written down to savour as archaic memories forever and ever.
- Change location. Take the computer to a spot that makes you feel happiest, even if it’s the bed. I work out of PC rooms in South Korea and even going to a new one can spark ideas. Other days, I want to be comfy and in my favourite one. Know your style. Are you more inspired when you’re comfortable or when you’re in a new environment? Play with that!
- If you’re someone that works well with music, bop on a new album or your favourite throwback. Nothing to evoke new ideas and thoughts like a hot new banger. If you don’t work well with music maybe try listening to instrumentals. There’s this super unique mix on YouTube called LoFi hip-hop beats to study and relax to. It’s pretty underground but I swear by it. It has a constant live stream on and it’s great for keeping your mind on track.
(If you didn’t catch the sarcasm there, LoFi hip-hop beats to study and relax to is notorious for being everyone’s go-to study music.)
4. Give up…for a bit
Sometimes life doesn’t go as planned. If none of this works, maybe it just isn’t the day to write and that’s okay. I always have a list of 20 general blog post ideas and about 4-5 posts I want to write about within the next month or so. If I can’t get out of a block for one topic, I’ll draft it and start a new one.
Frying your brain over one post isn’t worth it and it’ll cause a burnout. Taking a break and revisiting posts is a-okay!
However, if it’s a time-dependent post, try to just write. Just open up your brain and dump all the junk out.
Dump. The. Junk.
Make bullet points of idea fragments and try to piece them together later. For me, starting a post could look like:
- Why you should move abroad
- Tons of people ask “Wow you travel so much. How do you do it?”
- I see so many expats move abroad and then move home within months because it’s so different from what they imagined. People don’t always move abroad prepared, they think it’s going to be some adventure skipping through central park drinking Thai tea and doing yoga in Goa the next day. It’s more like ______________ (joke about what it’s like to really live abroad)
- People see “travel” as synonymous with “vacation” – lots of work, just has a very unique reward
Later I’ll go through, fill in the blanks and meld all the ideas together. Find synonyms for simple words, reorder all the ideas, write, edit and re-write. It seems a little chaotic but it can be really good to see all the thoughts written down and sift through the garbage hole that is your mind. From dust to diamonds, here’s the finished product!
Writer’s block is the worst and getting through it is a process that takes practice but it’s possible. Even if it seems like you’re lost in a haunted forest with nothing to eat but beetles for five days straight. Get comfortable, relax, find new inspiration, cut yourself some slack and get through that swamp! It’s part of the learning process and it’ll only make you a better writer in the end. Go forth little drain clogs and be phenomenal!
What are your tips for getting through the Saw trap that is writer’s block? Have you ever done anything crazy for content? Let us know in the comments below or shoot an email at firstname.lastname@example.org