For the freelance writer, writer’s block and depression tend to be synonymous, or they at least go hand in hand. Some describe writing as being like an addiction, stipulating that if you can find anything else in the world to do, you should do it. It’s a calling that gets characterized as an affliction. Why? Because it is often thankless, solitary and often fleeting. It’s the fleeting part that we’re here to talk about. If the life of a writer is like that of a drunk, blockage is like a relapse. It takes no rhyme or reason for it to happen. You might be receiving all of the encouragement in the world, interest from agents, support from friends, maybe even monetary compensation and, like a sniper laying in wait, writer’s block rears its ugly head, poised to blow your face off. On the other hand, it can be even worse when the universe seems to dead set on keeping your writing at bay, and your mind as if in collusion with the universe, just stops producing. Well then, I say screw your brain and the universe too. Here are a few methods I’ve found effective for combating writer’s block.
Read This is the best advice I can give on the subject. If you’re having trouble reading your chosen book, switch to something different. If you cannot concentrate period, abstain from TV and disconnect from the internet. Use the cable and wifi money for the below suggestions and soon you’ll find the desire to read will start to come back.
Drink or Don’t Drink Often writer’s block can feel like the mind revolting against your life choices. If you drink every night, then try stopping. If you never drink, go get drunk. This may sound silly, but coming from someone who hardly ever drinks, I’ve found if I go out and get a little bit drunk, I’ll find myself slightly hung over and writing up a storm the next day. There’s nothing like that super-raw, goosebumpy, maudlin-hangover feeling to get the creative juices gushing.
Stay Up A good night’s sleep can be helpful for writer’s block, but even more often, no sleep can jump start your creativity. Some say the best cure for depression is a night without sleep, and I’ve found it just as helpful for writer’s block.
Eat Differently If you skip any meal on a day-to-day basis, start eating that meal. Breakfast is just what people say it is, so eat it, and have an apple, they are good for you. I’m sorry to be talking to you like a child but if you are going through a self-pitying, insular writer’s block stint, well then, you’re likely acting like a petulant child. Buck up cowboy, pull yourself up by the bootstraps. If you don’t have bootstraps, buy them, I think they sell them at the dollar store. Stop making excuses and if you don’t have a friend who will talk to you this way, find one.
Socialize Unfortunately for the aspiring writer, socializing is something that cannot be avoided. The most successful of us have forced ourselves to learn to socialize since it does not come naturally to many. Why is this important? The obvious answer is: for networking purposes. The less obvious answer is that all the things that make life worth writing about tend to take place while socializing: inspiring conversation, sex, aggression, foolishness. You must experience these things. That guy who got your back in the bar fight last night, the one who was brandishing the broken pool cue as the two of your circled the angry masses back to back staving off blows, that guy is your agent now, congratulations! The two of you will now spend weekends in the Catskills shooting guns and this too will help you with your writer’s block.
Read It’s such a big deal that I said it twice. If you can’t stand to sit down and read, download some audio books and listen to them everywhere you go. In a sense, reading and writing are the same discipline and one certainly does not exist without the other. You need to find yourself walking around narrating what’s happening in front of you, As I walked down Graham Avenue toward the coffee shop I frequent during these drab winter afternoons, I relished the mouthful of smoke-tinged air that I sucked in just before a billow of garbage gas from a Dunkin Donuts trash load left behind commandeered an almost pleasant moment.
All of the above is intended to prove one final point, and it’s the same point that any writing teacher will regurgitate when it comes to the subject of writer’s block, but it’s one of the things that became a cliché because it’s true: make yourself scribble nonsense. Writing gibberish is better than not writing. If nothing else, muscle memory may serve to help open the floodgates. There’s a game called “50 Bad Ideas” where you sit and try to write down 50 of the worst ideas you can think of for a story. If you give it a try, you might just find that idea number four isn’t half bad and idea number 40 is the best you’ve ever had.