You’re staring at a blank page. Your creativity is gone. Your brain is fried. You feel a headache coming on. You’ve had ideas – but somehow you can’t get into the groove.
I feel you. I try my hardest to maintain a consistent blog, with articles every week at the very least. But when I hit a brick wall and feel like there’s nothing to write about, I lose motivation and question why I started a blog in the first place.
I was watching Jane The Virgin and one episode showed Jane battling her inner critic: An uptight and spiteful Jane, who hated all of her ideas and trash-talked over her shoulder as she started writing. This obviously resulted in Jane feeling lost and discouraged from writing her new book. I appreciated this episode because I have a little critic in my head too, and this usually results in my own writer’s block. I also have so many drafts on my blog that are yet to be published because my own mind is telling me it’s garbage. So I see the “Writer’s Block” as having an emotional connection with the writer. It’s definitely not the same as procrastination.
How do other writers overcome this block? What do they think of it? What brings them out of that darkness and inspires them?
Here’s where these talented poets and writers come in. I contacted a bunch of young creatives who were happy to share their thoughts on how they get their groove back.
Luela (@mightbeluela) | Journalist & Blogger:
“For me, writer’s block is the silent attacker. Just when I feel my most productive, it crawls into my mind, releases gas of fuzzy smoke, and takes whatever creativity I have stored away as a hostage. Sometimes, it would last so long that it actually makes me question whether I’d lost the ability to produce written content. I try writing down things you find inspiring in your every day life, jotting down notes may seem pointless but I promise you, it can actually help you come up with new content. As a blogger, I use anything and everything in my daily life as inspiration for new posts whether it be on my morning commutes or perhaps a TV series I watch.” (Dive into The Life Of Luela blog here!)
Susu, (@susucreates) | Poet & Blogger:
“Inspiration is all around us and sometimes it’s just noticing it that causes a sudden need to write. I zone out a lot and during those moments I am engrossed by a tree or a falling snowflake and suddenly I feel like I need to write a poem. It’ll just flow out of my mind onto paper and that has been my biggest inspiration. My inspiration is also my family. I am beyond blessed with such amazing role models in my family who have given me so much to look up to. Many of my aunts/cousins are creatives in some shape or form and it’s beautiful. Also, my sister is my rock, we both write and her constant support has also been a strong motivation to keep doing what I am doing.” (Check out SuSu’s poetry blog here!)
Sumayyah Barre, (@__dusktodawn) | Poet:
“I started writing properly in the winter of 2016. Before that, I wrote small snippets of thoughts but I started to write consistently after reading Warsan Shire’s “Teaching My Mother How To Give Birth” book. She’s literally my biggest inspiration. I tend to navigate more towards the work of African poets because that’s where I get most of my inspiration from. My poetry revolves around mental health, Somali culture, being a black woman, and my faith. Inspiration comes easily when it’s a topic I’m passionate about.”
Alakku (@alakkuu) | Poet:
“I find inspiration comes to me when I’m most relaxed (during a shower or just before bed) and I try to compile pieces accordingly. But whenever I have writer’s block, I try to think of anything but poetry so I don’t feel pressured to write. Sometimes I’ll have a conversation with someone and it’ll spark a ton of inspiration. I’ll have a piece by the end of the night. Sometimes I’ll sit on a poem for months just to look back and see if it evokes the same emotions from me. I choose to share my work on Mondays because it’s the start of the week and I wanted to contribute to the concept that Mondays really aren’t that bad.”
Halima, (@halimawrites) | Writer/Storyteller:
“Whenever I find myself stuck while writing, I step away. I take a break from whatever it is I’m writing and come back to it whenever I feel ready to write again. This really works for me and helps me improve my writing. Another thing I do is read books that I love and don’t love so much. All the famous writers will tell you to read and write every day. It’s not always possible to write something every day but it can be to read. Crack open a book that you’re in the middle of and get lost in the words. Consistency also goes a long way with writing.” (Peep Halima’s awesome website here!)
Hashi, (@hashi_asw) | Poet:
“It’s the small things that inspire my poems. Something like an overheard conversation or a comment in a video made. I think that my poems are also inspired by what I truly feel within myself, it’s an emotional connection when I write. I also enjoy people-watching in day to day environments where I suddenly notice the topics I want to write about.”
Anon | Poet:
“I’ve always used poetry as a tool to express my deepest feelings and emotions. So whenever I’m writing and I have writer’s block, I leave the poem. I detach myself from the emotions I’m feeling and do something to lift my spirits and put myself in a much brighter mood until I’m ready to revisit those emotions I was feeling prior. Normally, I go to the gym or go for a run. I find that it normally clears my mind. Generally speaking, the vast majority of the poems I’ve written are about sad, depressing, and negative times in my life but I’m now trying to start writing more positively. I must say I do struggle to get my creative juices flowing, which means I’m in the gym more often these days. I’ve actually been listening to movie scores played by orchestras to try and get my mind in a positive and uplifting space before I write poetry again and I think it’s helping!”
Mussa (@MoreMussa) | Writer/Creative
“I don’t believe in writer’s block. I feel like this gives me an advantage, it might exist for some but I don’t believe in it. If I ever get stuck, I blame the environment or the people around me, the things I see, the vibe or even my own energy. Maybe I’ve become complacent, maybe I’m doing something over and over again. How do I expect my brain to produce amazing things if I’m not providing the right environment for it? It’s like a seed you see, given the right conditions it’ll grow big and beautiful. Give it less light and it’ll still grow, just slower. Give it no light and your ideas will remain in the soil forever, in your brain forever. Oh and I’m inspired by everything. I can’t trace it down to one thing, It can be a simple conversation with a stranger to a feeling deep within randomly emerging. So as cliché might sound, I’m inspired by life.” (Check out SSCOPE, it’s dope.)
Salma Ibrahim, (@SalmaWrites) | Aspiring Novelist
“One lesser-known form of inspiration is actually just listening to strangers talk. I encourage writers to make use of the strangers we cross paths with because often it’s strangers that are the most honest with us. For example, an unknown lady got on the bus and started ranting to me about how bad her daughter’s friend’s acting was in the school play. Why she was telling me this I do not know, but she was honest in a way that she couldn’t have been with her daughter’s friend. When I’ve got writer’s block, I try not to seek perfection, or beauty, or something profound to write about. Instead, I resign myself to honesty.”
Salma is also the Founder and Co-producer of Literary Natives, an organisation that champions writers of colour through events and workshops with published authors of colour. Their next event will be on the 8th of April. Book your ticket here and support!
Ironically, writing about the writer’s block inspired me to write this post. Sometimes you just have to write about what you’re going through. I don’t have a particular way of overcoming my own writer’s block but I find inspiration when I reflect on things and memories. I’ve always enjoyed writing about the past, what I love/hate, and memories that I’d like to share with other people. That’s where my strength lies and I guess it’s about making the most out of those moments.
I’d like to thank each and every single one of the featured writers and poets for sharing their thoughts with me. Feeling blocked is temporary and each of us have our own way of finding inspiration – either from a single conversation, or going to the gym, or watching people walking by while you’re on a bus or when your mind wanders while you’re in the shower. Once you find it, it will become your number one source of motivation. So keep going.
To conclude, I’ll leave you with this interesting article I stumbled on.
According to some scientists, a simple cup of tea can do the trick. It doesn’t necessarily give you a boost of inspiration but it’s definitely a mood enhancer. It can “create a ‘positive’ mood which in turn sparks the brain’s cognitive regions into life.”
Each to their own, I guess